Finance director on administrative leave – Statesman Journal
8 months ago Comments Off on Finance director on administrative leave – Statesman Journal
Following the first public information made available regarding an inquiry City of Stayton staff issues, the city announced that Finance Director Christine Shaffer was placed on administrative leave.
On Monday, March 7, City Administrator Keith Campbell confirmed that Shaffer was placed on leave late afternoon the previous Thursday, March 3.
Last week City Attorney David Rhoten issued a public statement that stated Bullard Law of Portland had “interviewed 18 witnesses concerning allegations which related to the Finance Director’s perceptions of the manner in which they and others were treated by the City Administrator.”
While the statement included snippets of some personal uneasiness expressed by city employees regarding both Campbell and Shaffer, none of those pieces of the investigative findings were cited as instrumental for the leave.
Bullard Law’s inquiry was directed by Stayton City Council on Jan. 19 following criticisms of Campbell raised by Shaffer and former Library Director Katinka Bryk. Bryk appealed her December termination; a hearing for that appeal was held Friday, March 11.
Rhoten’s report intimated that disagreements between Shaffer and Campbell likely played a role in the director’s administrative leave. There were no incisive citations implying incompetence or malfeasance, but there were references to incongruent employee compensation practices.
Rhoten’s statement said:
“The testimony of employees demonstrates that the Finance Director and City Administrator got along well until he settled into his new role and responsibilities. When he began to direct the Finance Director and had gained the confidence to be less reliant on her, their relationship deteriorated as her influence and control diminished.”
Rhoten said as Bullard Law’s inquiry continues an expanded, detailed report will be made available to Mayor Hank Porter and the city council once the firm’s finished preparing it.
While specifics were minimal, the report did cite a discrepancy in the usage of “comp time” by salaried employees as critical factor involved with the recommendation for Shaffer’s leave. Campbell reportedly sought, successfully, to curtail or restrict what was deemed a loose practice with comp-time usage.
“One issue that needs further inquiry surrounds the City’s compensatory time off practices and related policies, and how practices evolved over time is a matter concerning which Bullard Law must inquire further,” Rhoten wrote. “At a minimum, the City Administrator’s action was measured and incremental. The practice he sought to correct was expensive, perhaps ultra vires. His attempts to stop it and his curtailment actions were consistent with the public interest, most probably entirely consistent with the desires of the City Council, and most assuredly in keeping with the ethical and professional standards of the International City Management Association.”
Rhoten said that based on the Bullard Law reports he recommended that Shaffer be placed on paid administrative leave “with no loss in benefits until she can be exonerated or until it is clear what other action(s) if any may be warranted.
“This action is not disciplinary in nature and no assumptions of serious wrongdoing should be inferred by the preliminary action being taken at this time,” he added.
Meanwhile, the testimonial evidence from the interviewees shared by the city attorney described Campbell in broad strokes, anywhere from harsh or abrasive to professional and respectful. The overall gist suggested that the administrator is working toward changing the culture of the city government, striving for fairness and equity, perhaps amid resistance to change.
One snippet quoted in the report said Campbell was “Doing all the right things…To a fault, all decisions have been to the long term benefit to the City.” Adding that “a little more finesse would be nice.”
Similar clips from interviewees included in the report painted Shaffer anywhere from overwhelming sort who “manages by fear” or is “passive aggressive,” to one who is “intelligent and meticulously calculated.”
Those character descriptions did not appear to be weighed into the city attorney’s recommendation, but they did seemingly provide a portrait, albeit incomplete, from which Bullard Law’s continued inquiry may flesh out when it presents its report to the city council.
“We look forward to receiving the results of the inquiry once it is complete and moving forward with the good work of the City,” Rhoten concluded.
jmuch@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 769-6338, cell (503) 508-8157 or follow at twitter.com/justinmuch
Finance director on administrative leave – Statesman Journal}