Nfld News: Mayor Lansing sues Roder, Cashman, Denison and Pokorney

Northfield News managing editor Jaci Smith posted this to the Northfield News website at 9:34 am today:

Lansing sues city councilors, administrator

Mayor Lee Lansing has filed suit against City Administrator Al Roder and councilors Noah Cashman, Jon Denison and James Pokorney for violations of the state open meetings and public records laws, according to sources with knowledge of the lawsuit.

The defendents in the suit were served late Tuesday. It is unclear whether the suit was filed by Lansing as mayor or as a private citizen. Councilors James Pokorney and Noah Cashman refused to comment on the suit. Lansing and Denison did not immediately return phone calls for comment.

We heard a little of Lansing’s irritation with liquor store meetings on the Oct. 5 Locally Grown podcast.

A tip-of-the-blogger hat to Alex Beeby for the heads-up.

Updated by Tracy at 4:20p:

Here’s the complete legal Summons and Complaint as a PDF file. It’s a public document which was filed in Rice County.

100 thoughts on “Nfld News: Mayor Lansing sues Roder, Cashman, Denison and Pokorney”

  1. Mayor Lansing has a guest column in today’s Nfld News: Mayor cites reasons for lawsuit

    It is expected that this complaint will address many public questions and concerns. This will be done in a professional, legal and open manner. This is a public document and it will be easy for anyone to follow the process and understand the issues. This action will ensure public disclosure. This disagreement will be decided openly and publicly.

    Hopefully, the action will bring clarity to the public. It is time that we clear the air. We have a lot of things to do as a community. We believe that by this action and the investigation of Mr. Everett, many community questions will finally be answered – professionally, completely and legally.

  2. Nfld News editorial today: Lawsuit will not solve city’s problems

    Relationships will be irreparably harmed by this suit. Mayor Lansing said in his interview with this paper that he didn’t think that would happen because everyone “is a professional.” A simple Google search of city employee versus city employee lawsuits shows that in most instances someone goes away at the end, either by firing or resignation, and it’s never pretty. There is little chance the administration or council will remain as it is now by the time this is over.

    Finally, there is a clause in the open records law that states that results of an investigation can be made public unless it jeopardizes pending civil legal action. By filing this suit, the Lansings can ask for the investigator’s report to be sealed until their lawsuit is resolved, since one could have bearing on the other. That would rob the citizenry of knowing for quite some time what is really going on in city hall.

    What the administration and council need is an all-out intervention by the public where all the dirty laundry is aired, cleaned and put away for good. What it doesn’t need is a contentious lawsuit. That’s a harbinger of ill will, not a “clearing of the air.”

  3. I continue to be amazed by the people who feel they have all the information, when actually if they have only read the newspaper, they have very little information.
    The newspaper threw some big questionable headlines up, but neglected to delve into both sides of the (mostly speculative) problem. Very little objectivity; don’t get me wrong …there seems to be plenty of blame to go around.
    But since the packet of memos delivered to the paper by ? was all making a case against the mayor, I think we can be certain it was not he who “leaked” them. So if a member of the staff or council leaked the memo packet, why is that never questioned by the paper? Was that an OK thing to do? Did that action not fan the flames? I think all could agree it was certainly not in the nature of trying to work things out. To who’s benefit was it to give those specific memos to the newspaper? That question would be asked loud and clear,if there was a desire to be objective.
    There’s a big nasty personality struggle going on here, and why the council has been foolish enough to take sides, I can’t imagine. The mayor is one of the council, and the staff are their employees; both relationships have built in obligations. The only reason for the council to choose up sides is if they know a lot that the public doesn’t know .
    And if that is the case, then the council is very irresponsible to not have found some way to begin to clear things up. And one Cperson’s blog is not going to make the difference. There is always a way to make a statement that is both sincere and meaningful.
    Let’s not forget that it’s also not just “mayor and council woes”; we have a criminal complaint filed against the City Administrator, by a Police Chief on leave, that’s currently under investigation in Goodhue County. Why is the newspaper not hanging around that courthouse seeing whose being interviewed? That may be beyond the resources , or inclination of a small paper, but then let’s not assume objectivity for what looks like selectivity.
    It is not clear, and won’t be for a long time, if the current dynamics continue.

  4. I am all for keeping business with the locals, but I have a huge problem with Al Roder’s former pastor getting several contracts with the city. He is not local, and his name is Dave Sohl. I have done alot of research about him, and Roder & no angel’s to be found with their deeds.

  5. Lisa,

    Care to expound? What “contracts” was Mr. Sohl awarded? Do you have any details of their nature or the manner in which they were awarded? Are you alleging preferential treatment by Roder? Biased access to a bidding process? What exactly?

  6. Brendon,

    Dave Sohl was awarded the job of the new city televised system, etc., and he stayed at Roder’s home while he performed his job. I need to vomit now!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Brendon, you beat me to this, so I’ll just agree. These are the kind of damaging pieces of incomplete information that just aren’t helpful.

  8. Lisa,
    The contract, awarded by the full council in July, was for $94,000 and change, so it had to go through the public bidding process. (It’s on the agenda and in the packet for the meeting, so it was all done on the up and up. Google it if you want, it just takes a second.) A contract that large would have drawn complaints from other contractors if it were awarded improperly. So the council and all the competing contractors (in a very tough market right now, so all are scrambling for work) were in cahoots on rigging a bid for someone who used to be a pastor for the administrator? Given the it’s a felony to do so, that’s kind of a stretch, don’t you think? And I don’t even want to know why people are staking out Roder’s house to monitor his guests.

  9. It’s all public info. people, just google it, and check the city documents. It’s damaging, because it is facts. Alot of citizens of Northfield don’t want facts they just want the drama.

  10. Lisa,

    We want the facts. It seems right now that you are providing only drama. What are the facts you can cite that this contract was illegal or inappropriate?

    I’m no Roder apologist. Remember how I took him to task for his misdirected and obfuscating rebuttal of Judy Dirks “prayer group” concerns.

    Anne Bretts has provided some facts. What can you say to counter those? How was this illegal? Just because someone knows the contractor doesn’t mean the contract was awarded inappropriately. Obviously, it’s a red flag, but even a red flag has to have at least one leg to stand on.

  11. So what are these supposed facts? That a person won a public bid process to do a legal contract? I just don’t get your point…there is absolutely nothing illegal here.

  12. Maybe another question might be, “Was a new audio/video system necessary?” Might that money have been better spent on training staff to use the city website?

  13. Some bold assertions here; let’s look at the facts we know…
    Council has to bid on awarding this contract.
    City administrator does not have to disclose his personal relationship or knowledge of each and every contractor …
    BUT if the relationship is as close as asserted, then it was a massive error of judgment not to; rather like the prayer- ladies -in -the -office massive error in judgment (IMHO).
    If the contractor was known personally to Mr. Roder, and is a personal friend, and it is true that was the only bid, then Mr. Roder should have disclosed any personal relationship , and ask council if they wished to have bids sent out again.
    Question? Why was it the only bid? How many requests for bids were sent out, and to whom? If contractors are “scrambling for work” and I think they probably are, then why was there only one bid?
    These are the sorts of questions that the newspaper should be asking when the issue came up on the original 14. Another example (IMHO) of the paper not questioning both sides of a controversy.
    The councilors ALL need to be asking a lot more questions, in public, of each other. The laundry is dirty; wash it and hang it out …good drying days are few and far between.

  14. These are the types of questions that should be asked. I agree with you on this, Kiffi. Again, this doesn’t equate with an actual infraction, but they are good questions that should always be asked as part of a bidding process.

    I am glad that you are not saying that these unanswered questions mean guilt is to be assigned as Ms. Guidry is claiming. Certainly, I would expect the City Council to be on the lookout for issues like this on any contract.

    I’m going to withhold my judgment until more facts are known, if there are real facts out there to be learned.

  15. I heard an interesting story/fable in Denison, Iowa. It was about the Coyote, that wily trickster who figures in both Mexican and Native American folk tales. “When Coyote doesn’t want anyone to follow his tracks, he tucks a sagebrush in the back of his belt; it wipes away his path as he walks.”

  16. Even if Roder and Sohl’s relationship seems to cover the time they spent together in Denison, IA and Detroit Lakes, MN, that does not mean that Sohl should not get the contract. If the business stayed here in town, chances are there would be some relationship with council or staff. Northfield is a “small” town. However, I do agree that the relationship between Roder and Sohl should have been disclosed, if it was not.

    My question about whether or not a new audio/video set-up was needed stems from the question of how the job was presented to potential contractors. If the job was presented to them in such a way that only one firm had the capabilities or preferred components, then you could say the bidding process might have been “rigged.” In other words, other contractors might have had another solution, but they did not present it because of the way the job was presented to them. They did not bid it because they could not offer the same capabilities or components. Yet, there might have been another solution. (Does that make any sense?) Because I am not familiar with how the need presented itself, or how the need was presented to the contractors, these points may be totally unapplicable.

  17. Christine,

    Very good point on which to speculate. I suspect it would be almost impossible to prove chicanery of that nature, however – the rigging you describe is more subtle than simply shutting out other bids as they arrive or not seeking bids from others in the first place.

    Your scenario implies prefitting a contract’s parameters to fit your friend’s business strengths and capabilities. That seems like it would be a tough case to prove, which, I guess, would make it a “good” way for someone to rig the process. Better than more obvious and more easily-detected schemes.

  18. It would seem that talking to the other contractors and the local access television folks would determine pretty quickly whether there were concerns about whether the contract was fair or the work needed. With $94,000 at stake, I can’t imagine people being willing to overlook even the most subtle rigging.
    I’m also sure, however, that no amount of interviewing or facts will keep people from seeing chicanery if that’s what they are determined to see.

  19. Please, before you make assumptions, guesses, and presumptions, call/email and at least ask the question of someone who might know the answer or be able to direct you to the answer.

    The City’s new AV equipment in City Hall:

    Why get new equipment and why spend as much as was spent?

    – Charter Communications “gave” the city $100,000 for new AV Equipment for City Hall Council Chambers back in 2002 or 2003. Contractually, we cannot just move the $100k into the city’s General Fund and spend it on sidewalks, for example.

    Who decided who got the contract and was it “rigged” to only allow one solution?

    – Myself, Victor Summa, Scott Richardson, Paul Hager, and a member of the City Staff (Al Roder) met for over a year regarding new equipment for the City Council Chambers. Melissa Reeder, IT Director for the City joined our group after she came on board with the city.

    – We collectively worked on the RFP and its final outcome. We, as a group, selected Mr. Sohl’s company to do the work.

    Was the proposal written in such a way to only allow Mr. Sohl to get the contract?

    – No. If it was, then it got past Victor, Paul, Scott R., and myself.

    Did Mr. Roder let the group know that he knew Mr. Sohl?
    – Yes on several occasions Mr. Roder mentioned his previous encounters with Mr. Sohl.

    Observation – it would seem from the above discussions, that it would be better for the city to always engage in companies we (the city) or our experienced employees have never done business with and have no history with because unknown companies are always the safest, least controversial choice.

  20. Thanks so much, Scott. These kinds of rumors are so insidious and so harmful — and yet so common about government officials. I figured the answer was something like this, but it’s wonderful to have the official version here to put a stop to the gossip.

  21. Thank you, Scott. It is nice to have someone in City Hall opening up to the community more. As I said above and in a related thread, I didn’t believe the story on its face, but now that you aired these points, the assertions made in this matter seem all the more baseless.

    I’m also glad that so much diligence is put into these bidding situations to avoid cronyism, corruption, etc… I would expect nothing less from our government.

  22. Scott: Thanks for giving us the background on the new equipment. I do not propose that we go with “unknown” contractors just to avoid possible conflict of interest. That could mean that the best person for the job might not get it, and that could be considered discriminatory. Obviously, some sort of personal recommendation due to past experience with a contractor should also be part of the considerations. I was just trying to figure out why Lisa G. seemed so “up-in-arms” about it. That did lead to unverified speculation on my part (though I did acknowledge that might be so), and I am somewhat embarrased I took the bait.

    As Victor was involved in the process, it would be interesting to see what he has to say.

  23. Scott, I assume that you are being facetious when you suggest:

    “Observation – it would seem from the above discussions, that it would be better for the city to always engage in companies we (the city) or our experienced employees have never done business with and have no history with because unknown companies are always the safest, least controversial choice.”

    Note, I assumed “facetious” and not “sarcastic”. I wouldn’t want your knuckles rapped by Griff.

    😉

  24. Let’s compromise – the thoughtful and creative mind of Mr. Etter might label my observation as “farcastic” or maybe even “sarcetious”. I’d pick one, but they both sound like some sort of a bodily function.

  25. see post # 62: Griff himself remembers only one bid.
    More people, who were involved with the committee, remember only one bid.
    see post # 64: more questions on process for a 94K project with only one bid that is an acquaintance of staff.
    Some of you (IMHO) are too willing to “dump” on some people; while not willing to even shift a wee tad of error on to others.
    And that remark is neither sarcastic ( “ironic; a taunt”) nor facetious
    (“frivolously amusing”). It might be “farcastic” if the definition of that is “prophetically cynical”!

    In light of full disclosure: first definition provided by The Oxford American Dictionary; second by The American Heritage Dictionary; third by me. (must represent all POV’s when facts are not known).

  26. Scott – Is there any reason that you and the Council cannot have the same kind of open discussion on the 14 issues? Why the secrecy and private investigator? I don’t get it, and I don’t think the rest of the town understands either.

  27. David, good question, but, well, you are kinda working backwards… asking a question using current knowledge and current situations and applying them to the past.

    We really could not have a discussion about any of the 14, without some findings of fact. I see that each question would have two parts to it.

    1. Identify what was the specific issue that compelled one or more city council members make it a State Auditor investigatable issue.

    2. Hire or use our own staff to investigate the claims and report back to the council their findings, so we can have an educated discussion about the issue.

    This would really only apply to the 8 items we did not already enlist an investigation of already.

    Now, we did attempt to answer #14, but you’ll have to ask the Mayor why he did not say anything when the council was asked what the issue was regarding the payroll plan.

    Unfortunately, because of the Mayor’s lawsuit, we may be further precluded from discussing some of the eight items not sent to the private investigator.

    At this point, all I can say, is come to the meeting on Thursday at 7:00pm.

  28. Yeah, the special meeting on Thursday … but what about the closed meeting at 6 before the Monday budget session at 7 ?
    That’s the one where it would/might be enlightening to have a citizen legal observer…
    And will a summary of that meeting be released , as I believe the statutes require?

  29. In response to #77, are you saying that Victor and the rest of the committee were in cahoots on rigging the contract or that they were all bamboozled?
    Scott’s explanation sounds pretty clear, and if the committee or the council were concerned about the single bid, after full disclosure, then they could have tossed the bid and started over. Once again, there seems to be an allegation without any evidence. Please share the proof that something wrong happened. The fact that some people don’t like the contractor doesn’t necessarily mean anything wrong happened.

  30. In response to # 81 : Not all people who were at the committee meetings view things they heard, or things that were done, with the same conclusion.
    Isn’t that called the “Rashomon Syndrome”? People tend to use the contributing “facts” which support their own worldview, or in this case, townview.

    I see this whole dilemma of the city hall dynamics, as a massive turf/power struggle between the Mayor and the City Administrator. Most people have chosen up sides ; that is evident from their comments on the street, in their homes, and in the civic blogosphere.

    I think, from listening carefully, those who seem to be on the Mayor’s “side”, concede that there is enough blame to go around.

    I think those who seem to be on the City Administrator’s “side”, do not wish to acknowledge ANY of the responsibility for problems to lie within that court.

    I think there is a lot of blame to go around and that some of it certainly lies with the staff, who have exhibited (IMHO) a blatant willingness to follow personal paths, and virtually try to create, rather than follow policy.

    Therefor, I am not willing, at this time, to say that The City Administrator is simply a victim of adverse circumstance; there have been choices made, and again (IMHO) some choices have shown extremely poor judgment.

  31. Scott –

    I can’t say it better than David Ludescher: “Is there any reason that you and the Council cannot have the same kind of open discussion on the 14 issues? Why the secrecy and private investigator? I don’t get it, and I don’t think the rest of the town understands either.”

    As for your response to David as to what steps you believe would be necessary to investigate the Leftover 8 in the same process at the Select 6 you say, “1. Identify what was the specific issue that compelled one or more city council members make it a State Auditor investigatable issue.” I will repeat my view: “I would agree with Scott that having someone take ownership, and explain the details, of an issue would make follow-up quicker and easier. However, I’m not sure that I agree that it’s necessary to have a name next to the issue of, let’s say, municipal contracting laws to make it valid or justify an independent investigation.”

    As for you response to David #2 “Hire or use our own staff to investigate the claims and report back to the council their findings, so we can have an educated discussion about the issue”, I have previously suggested that having a city staff’s appointee investigate charges against that city staff person does not meet at least my standard of an independent investigation.

    On this subject of having city staff investigate questions about city staff’s conduct or actions, there is also David Marone’s issue (raised at two Council Meetings which I attended) which seems to concern municipal contracting laws (item #6 on the original list of 14 items, which was relegated to the Leftover 8) apparently related, in this case, to the 5th Street reconstruction work. If David Marone is willing to have his name next to it, perhaps it could be added to the list as #15. Clearly he is not satisfied with staff’s investigation of his concerns.

    Finally, your suggestion that David Ludescher attend the Council meeting Thursday night may be a good one. However, Dixon Bond and Victor Summa verbally advocated for an independent investigation of all 14 items at a council meeting, a request supported by editorial opinions both in the Northfield New and on Locally Grown and now repeated by David Ludescher in comments related to this post. Council Members, including yourself, continue to resist this action for, what I and others believe to be independence and openness, through your votes and explanations. Why should we believe that your views and actions would change if only David Ludescher appeared at the open mic?

    My fading hopes lie in the octogenarian…

    – Ross

  32. Come to think of it, what would be more of a statement of willingness, on the council’s part, to fully have the understanding of the community…than to decide that the closed meeting at 6, monday (dealing with the lawsuit) would in fact NOT be closed, but open ???

    Should the council not find it easier to deal with an open meeting on the lawsuit issue, than all this wild speculation? The text of the lawsuit is public; what will be said or revealed in that meeting that the council thinks the public does not deserve to hear?

    Response, please …

  33. So I understand a few of you… when a council person has an issue, whether it be big or small, valid or invalid, the citizens would prefer that a council person go directly to the State Auditor, or the council should automatically hire a $150.00 an hour investigator to do a findings of fact without asking any questions. Who cares who brought up the issue or what the real issue is.

    How many times can I say it:

    THE COUNCIL WANTS TO DISCUSS ALL ITEMS ON THE LIST.

    We have already started the investigation of 6 or more of the items (we don’t know the specific items Mr. Everett is investigating and won’t until mid December).

    WE VERY WELL MAY ENLIST AN INVESTIGATION (the $150.00 and hour type) OF EACH REMAINING ITEM.

    However, I am not going to just turn over the checkbook and staff time (staff will be the ones answering questions, completing paperwork, etc.) without knowing the specifics of what we are investigating first.

    For those of you that have already made up your mind on the issues, I cannot change that.

  34. Sorry, Victor, wrong again. You said, “Such reasoning is all speculation and likely never to be completely understood,” and that I would never agree with you. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this statement.

    Scott- Thanks so much for some, what I consider, first-hand observations.

  35. The idea that Council members can present their individual grievances in secrecy to be investigated by an independent investigator troubles me. It’s the Council’s job to solve their own problems.

  36. David L. – I could not agree with you more!!!!!!!! Mr. Currier believes that WHO brought something to the table to investigate is NOT a big deal, or what their specific allegations are (if the person does not step up and take ownership of their issue, then be default, we will not get any details to work from) We can’t seem to win.

    Can someone explain the difference between an investigation by the State Auditor and an attorney we hire to investigate the issues?

    !. Will the State Auditor blog us each day with the status of what’s going on in the investigation.
    2. Can a citizen call up the State Auditor to get an update on all the details of the investigation while it is being conducted?
    3. Will the State Auditor release their findings and not redact private personnel information, or other information that is legally required to be not divulged?

    Let’s take the suggestion that the council should have an open discussion of the 14 issues. We’ll use the first one:

    “Has there been any improper influence exerted or any improper action taken by any City official, employee, consultant or private party with regard to the site selection process for a new municipal liquor store within the City, including the potential site located at 600 Division Street South?”

    How would that work? Here are several options:

    A-Would staff prepare anything for the meeting? If we did have staff prepare content, we would be crucified for using “insiders” to prepare biased information.

    B-Would we hire a person to investigate the issue and provide us with facts first. Crucified again… because that is what we are doing with 6 or more of the items.

    C-To heck with facts or details – lets just dive in and start discussing the situation… without any facts to work from, like LG.

    Scott

  37. Scott, you said, “How many times can I say it:
    THE COUNCIL WANTS TO DISCUSS ALL ITEMS ON THE LIST.” (#85)
    I do not believe that I have heard that before. Thank you for the clarification.

  38. “Mr. Currier”??? Come on, Scott…

    …and “crucified”? Scott, I think the asking of a few questions and the raising of a few concerns hardly qualifies as crucifixion.

    Either the state auditor or a private attorney would be fine with me (and I think the others that have asked questions and raised concerns about this issue); I would have some confidence that they are independent. A council person or a staff person investigating their own actions does not meet my definition of an independent investigation.

    I think that your option “B” is what citizens and the media are requesting: explore the Leftover 8 in the same or similar, by my definition independent, process as the Select 6. At least I would be satisfied with that approach.

    If I can pick out a serious question from your comment #85, yes, personally, as an individual, private citizen, it is my opinion that it’s probably worth a few hundred bucks to get independent answers to questions such as: ““Were proper municipal contracting laws followed?”, “Has there been a misuse of public funds?”, “Have the City’s purchasing practices conformed to state and federal requirements?”, and “Has the City’s pay plan been implemented and followed and have any deviations from the plan been reported to the Council?”

    If the Council choices to initiate an independent investigation (that would be one that does not have council members or staff members investigating their own actions) for the Leftover 8 at Thursday’s meeting, it would do much to answer my questions and address my concerns.

    …and maybe you could go back to calling me “Ross” and stop making dramatic references to being crucified.

    You and I have probably spent too much time debating this topic the past few days. I yield the floor or post on this issue to others and will wait and see what comes out of the meeting Thursday night.

    I urge all interested citizens to attend and watch it live. The body language of the participants is not captured by the television broadcast.

    – Ross

  39. The problem with option B. is that the “facts” are going to have to come back to the Council for a vote.

    There is an option D. Take the auditor’s advice and consider all 14 a political, not legal problem. Sit down in a room, and no one can leave until you come up with a political solution to each one of the questions.

  40. The only problem with your solution in#91, David, is that they MIGHT decide there are no problems, like they did with the “pay plan”issue.

  41. Reading people’s body language? Is this what it all comes down to? Should city government be reduced to an episode of Dr. Phi?
    Many of us would like to see this resolved, but without all the rumors and innuendo and body language analysis.
    David L., you’re right, these aren’t really legal problems but political and personal ones. The council can’t remove the mayor; the mayor can’t remove the council. Even if there was an open meeting law violation, it doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal act. The contract for the television improvements in City Hall was legal, even if people don’t like the contractor. The separation of church and state is intact, with a room use policy in place. Without a policy in place and without proof of intent, Roder’s use of his office legally is no more than bad judgment.
    There’s a meeting this week on the drug problem, the result of agencies working together on the issue. Another win. The police department is over-worked but public safety continues to be protected while the police chief recovers. Any complaints against him need to be documented and dealt with at a (closed) personnel hearing when he returns.
    Most importantly, the liquor store issue is on hold, so the council can move ahead with other building priorities, such as the library and safety center. The issue should remain on hold until those projects are done. That will push it until after the next election, which will allow the public to decide — and the mayor to get a clean environment report for the land.
    Sounds like the council needs to review the items on the list, maybe taking an hour at each meeting to work through an issue at a time without stalling current business. This is not a crisis. The council should release all the memos from the liquor store issue and let the public see who intimidated whom. Since both sides say the memos support them, there should be no objection.
    And councilors need to know that no matter what they decide, a group of people will continue to complain. Those people have a right to be heard, but they should not be allowed to dictate the city’s agenda or disrupt government on a continual basis.

  42. I read Councilor Davis’ response to state that even the councilors don’t know if there is a problem. On the 6, that went to the investigator, they want to know if there are any facts. On the other 8, I can only surmise that they don’t want to know the facts.

    Personally, I don’t understand why the Council sent the matters to the private investigator if, in Councilor Davis’ words – they don’t have any facts to work from. Whichever councilor made the “issue” must think that he has some facts.

  43. I’m going to go out on a limb here with what may , or may not, be facts.
    Re: the “pay plan issue” …i heard both the consultant’s advice and the council’s discussion when the pay plan guidelines came up for review. If you go back to the council tapes, or the newspaper articles from that time, you would see there were either 4 or 5 employees that were affected by the “brackets” for pay range within a job description.
    All except one of the employees were long-timers, who had earned deserved merit pay raises over the years, which then put them over the top of their “bracket”.
    The one was a newer employee, Howard Merriam, who had been hired by Susan Hoyt, and whose job description (dir. of Open Lands & Resources) did not fit a standard job description. Everyone I know thought Mr. Merriam was doing an exceptionally fine job; he certainly seemed to enjoy the job, and the community.
    Mr. Merriam’s salary was cut, a cut he didn’t feel he could sustain and he left.
    None of the other employees left.
    The questions that the council needed to ask at the time … and I don’t recall this happening … are 1. why are we losing such a good employee? 2. Is there anyway to avoid a cut, possibly just freezing his salary ’til it “catches up”? 3. What cuts are we enforcing on the other employees? 4. Is there anyone else leaving because of this?
    If the answer to #4 is “no” … then the council needed to re-ask 2 and 3, to ensure that all employees are being treated equally.
    Wouldn’t you agree?

  44. If you go back to my post #94, you’ll see that people who have been at council meetings , and have heard both the presentations there and the discussion may well believe there are problems where the council is saying there are none.

    The only way to know if there is or is not a problem with the pay plan is to ask this question: “Of the four long term employees whose salaries were above their “bracket”, and who have not left, what were their salaries before Jan. 1, 2007, and what were their salaries after that date?”

    If their salaries have been cut to fit within the pay plan schedule, then you have employees who accepted the cuts, for whatever reasons.

    If their salaries have NOT been cut, then you have a problem with the pay plan … regardless of what the council said at the work session where they were supposed to discuss it.

    And saying they don’t know what questions to ask is simply not a credible answer. And not resolving it is not an acceptable response, either.

  45. I think that question that should be asked is if a council member has a concern about the pay plan AND has evidence to suggest there may be a problem with it, then why has that council member not brought that concern to the council to allow us to deal with it in a public forum?

  46. Jon : I would appreciate it if you would come to your Saturday AM ward meeting with the following information: With regard to the four long term employees who were identified in 2006 as being above their pay range (because of deserved merit raises), I believe these were Lindroos, Lien , and Little, and one other whom I don’t recall; What were their salaries before Jan 1 2007 and what were their salaries after Jan1 2007. I believe that was the cutoff date for compliance.

    Additionally,Then if none of those employees received pay cuts, to bring them within range, how was that decision made, and justified? And by whom, and with or without council approval, especially if it is a violation of state rules for them to be above their pay brackets?

    How can it be within “regularity” for one employee to receive a cut, resulting in his leaving, if that is inconsistent with how the salaries of other employees were handled?

    This, of course, all goes to the list of 14 issues: I believe this was # 14.

    Thank you.

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