Bullying can't be allowed to continue in Gladstone
While it was not my intent for this issue to become public, it has clearly become so. I filed the complaint and therefore feel the need to clarify what happened and my intentions.
I filed a formal complaint with the city on April 3, 2017, regarding a pattern of intimidation directed toward me primarily by two members of the current City Council. My complaint cites a specific incident that occurred during a mid-December event after I had become Gladstone's mayor-elect. During that public event, I was yelled at, accused of "causing all the problems of the city," "undermining all the city's plans," speaking to people I wasn't supposed to speak to and "destroying everything they were trying to achieve." I was told, not at all politely, that I was "no longer allowed to participate in any city activities, speak to staff or request information needed for my pending position."
I was in shock over this verbal tirade. I felt humiliated and was reduced to tears and was soon comforted by several persons, including Councilor Neal Reisner, who stated that Police Sgt. Lawrence arrived soon after I left, because he could hear the yelling from the Police Station.
My complaint also documents an ongoing pattern of intimidation by these same individuals. For example, even though I have since assumed the position of mayor, I have been told that I am not allowed to speak directly with staff without first getting permission even though others on the council are not so restricted. I have been told I am prohibited from contacting staff attorneys, although others on the council are not so restricted. Letters have been submitted to the Clackamas Review directly criticizing me, and some members on the council have boasted helping to author those letters.
On Nov. 30, 2016, Eric Swanson, Gladstone's city administrator, issued a staff memo regarding the city's policy against bullying. It's a good memo and I support it. Among other things, the memo notes that "bullying generally refers to repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate, or undermine..." The memo notes that examples of bullying include the following behaviors, all of which have been directed towards me:
Unwarranted or invalid criticism;
Blame without factual justification;
Being shouted at or being humiliated;
Excessive monitoring or micro-managing.
I have since been told by city officials that, despite having an anti-bulling policy in place, I am not protected by this policy, because I am an elected official, despite the fact that I was technically a volunteer at the time of the December encounter.
Certain members of the City Council have recently stated publicly that they did engage in the alleged behavior, but that I must not consider it a big deal because I have not been speaking about it publicly. This entire experience shocks and saddens me.
In my many years in the public workforce I would never condone any bullying towards or from anyone with whom I work. It is never OK to experience this behavior, nor is it OK to stand by and watch it happen without intervening. I don't begin to imagine the motivation, but will not stand back and let it continue.
Tammy Stempel is the mayor of Gladstone.