Gladstone police chief leaving for Washington job
Gladstone Police Chief Jeff Jolley is leaving at an interesting time for the department, as the city prepares to design a new police station, just following the resignation of Jolley's assistant and about a month after city officials hope voters will renew a police levy for a continued tax rate earmarked for police services.
Jolley and City Administrator Jacque Betz estimate that he will be leaving at some point in December to take the police-chief job in Monroe, Washington, where he's a finalist for the position but hasn't passed a background check yet to be officially offered the position.
Meanwhile, his former assistant Lisa VeraCruz said, "Jolley expressed to me on numerous occasions that he was in fear of losing his own job" and she suspects that Betz probably told Jolley that if VeraCruz were out of the picture, Betz would write Jolley a letter of recommendation so he could leave as well.
VeraCruz's boyfriend Mitch Beyer recently retired as a Clackamas County deputy sheriff and worked with Jolley since Jolley arrived in Gladstone from a police position in Utah in 2012. Beyer recently attended a council meeting regarding Betz's performance evaluation procedure. When he left abruptly, Jolley stopped Beyer and asked if they could talk. According to his story, Beyer said "not now" and proceeded to leave the building. Jolley then reportedly followed Beyer out of City Hall and stopped him on the street. During the conversation when Beyer asked him why he did not defend his employee, Beyer said that he clearly remembers Jolley's response: "Mitch, what do I do? It was either her or me."
Jolley said VeraCruz and Beyer's theory that VeraCruz and Jolley were forced out was completely inaccurate. Jolley praised Betz for having "done a phenomenal job, putting all these projects together to enhance livability for citizens." VeraCruz's statements came as City Council positively evaluated Betz's job performance; they will consider increasing her compensation at the Nov. 13 meeting.
"I'm not leaving because of Jacque," Jolley said. "When you talk with most employees, they say that Jacque is a wonderful person who's doing a great job."
"I don't feel Chief Jolley is being honest with you," VeraCruz said. "Chief Jolley had several conversations with me that he was concerned about his own job because of the way Betz was managing him and the things she was saying to him. He gave me no specifics. He said we can either adapt to what she wants or we can find another job. He told me he was looking for another job."
Jolley only agrees with VeraCruz that he had started pursuing the Monroe opportunity this spring, while VeraCruz still worked in Gladstone, before she resigned her position Aug. 21. Jolley said accepting the Monroe position will be one of the most difficult things he and his family have ever decided.
"This was a tough decision, and my wife and I wanted to retire in that area," Jolley said. "Is the timing good? It's terrible in a lot of ways, both professionally and personally. In the short term, it's going to be tough to leave the guys and gals in this city… Overall both professionally and personally it's going to be a great benefit as well."
VeraCruz sees Jolley's explanations as not wanting "to jeopardize his chances of upsetting Betz and not getting his new job or having to deal with Betz in general."
A 31-year veteran of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, VeraCruz said she took the job in Gladstone not for the money (she already had a full retirement pension) but to help the police department with day-to-day functions and assist Jolley with projects and certifications.
VeraCruz said when she pointed out that Gladstone was misspelled on payroll checks, Jolley laughed. He laughed again when a newspaper reporter mentioned the "Gladestone" spelling that had been on checks and said that he didn't need to bring it to anyone's attention, because the finance department realized right away about the error and corrected it.
"People make mistakes, obviously, but they fixed it," he said.
"Finance did not discover the misspelling on payroll checks," VeraCruz said. "I did and took it to Lieutenant Fryett to get it fixed."
VeraCruz says she knows she is correct when she and Jolley have a difference of opinion about the facts of what happened in Gladstone. She also documented overpayments or vendors not receiving payments from the Finance Department on time in an 18-page typed diary she provided this month to City Council.
"I came home every night and documented because I was in fear of losing my job," VeraCruz said. "I didn't feel I was being treated fairly. I didn't feel I had the support from my supervisor."
"I certainly didn't write down any time, date or place because that wasn't my intention, but I think that speaks for itself," Jolley said.
Jolley would not confirm or deny whether he told VeraCruz that he thought that Betz had a problem with VeraCruz because of her sister who worked with Betz in Newberg.
"I can tell you that this employee voluntarily resigned her position and that I was not aware of any of her family members' employment while she was at the city," Betz said.
VeraCruz's documentation says Gladstone HR Director Nancy McDonald approached her and asked how her sister was doing: "I said, 'How do you know my sister?' Nancy McDonald said, 'Jacque Betz and I both know your sister from the city of Newberg.' I asked her, 'How you know Norma is my sister.' Nancy McDonald replied, 'From your background information.' This led me to believe they both had access and read my confidential personal background information packet."
VeraCruz's desk from the 1980s, covered in protective bubble wrap, was so inadequate, she said, it was causing a potential liability for the city, so Jolley approved her ordering a new desk. But then when the new desk arrived, VeraCruz said she witnessed Betz ask "what is this?" before having strong words with Jolley in his office.
Jolley said it wasn't true that his expenses all had to be cleared through Betz.
"Department heads are responsible for their own budgets," he said. "It sounds like there might be a bit of a disconnect or perception issue on that."
Jolley is responsible for his budget, VeraCruz said, but she maintained that he cannot purchase items without Betz's approval.
"She made that very clear when I purchased a desk for my office," VeraCruz said. "She said, 'You will not purchase items in the future without asking me first.' I was sitting in the room when she told him that."
Betz says that she has delegated department heads like Jolley the authority to spend up to $10,000 for items budgeted. Betz acknowledged that she questioned the timing of the desk purchase because the city is in the design-build phase of a new City Hall/police department building, which will include new furniture when it is complete.
"Lisa Veracruz did not witness me telling Chief Jolley that he cannot purchase items like a desk without approval," Betz said. "Earlier in the year other employees at City Hall also inquired about new furniture and decided to wait until a new City Hall was built. When Chief Jolley explained that the new desk would go in the new building my question was satisfied."
"Ms. Betz obviously felt she was out of line with her initial response to the desk delivery because the first thing she said in the [final] meeting with Chief Jolley and me was 'Lisa, I want to apologize for my reaction to you when the desk was delivered,'" VeraCruz said.
Jolley said that local voters approving a new City Hall/police department building is just one of the many accomplishments for the department during his tenure. He's also proud to have restarted the police-canine program and finally getting the state to agree to research ways to improve the "terrible intersection" at Arlington Street and Highway 99E.
"If a disgruntled ex-employee didn't like working for me, I'm fine with that," Jolley said. "She can attack me all she wants, but not my boss."
VeraCruz said she did like working for Jolley but was disappointed that he was not a supportive supervisor and lacked integrity.
"I am not a disgruntled employee," VeraCruz said. "I am very happy being retired. I am passionate about law enforcement, and grew up in this environment. No one should be subjected to the work environment and treatment that I went through as an employee with the city of Gladstone. This is not about me, this is about the future of the city of Gladstone."
Developing a process for finding Jolley's replacement won't be determined until his leaving date is definite. Betz said, "Once I have a definitive date I will meet with each elected official to talk about a temporary transition plan and a permanent recruitment process."