City has much to do to right this ship
The results of an external investigation into allegations of harassment within the administration of the city of Newberg are, at best, troubling. At worst, the investigation has revealed that there are serious issues within the city that must be addressed quickly before they threaten to bring the whole operation down.
The investigation by a Portland law firm was commissioned by the city and its insurance carrier. It came after human resources director Anna Lee filed a complaint in May claiming she was being harassed by Chief Brian Casey and Capt. Jeff Kosmicki of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department, IT director David Brooks and an Oregon State Police investigator.
Lee filed the complaint with former City Manager Joe Hannan and City Attorney Truman Stone, but adds that the harassment was never addressed properly by Hannan.
The results of the investigative report paint a picture of an inept and dysfunctional city administration that is in dire need of strong direction from the top.
We believe the city was right in ordering the investigation and that the money it cost to render the findings will be well spent if the city can use it as a foundation for change.
No blame should be put on interim city manager David Clyne as he has only been in place for a few months and inherited this mess from Hannan, who by nearly all accounts was as an ineffective a city manager as this city has seen for some time.
To be fair, though, Hannan came in on the heels of two predecessors, Jacque Betz and Dan Danicic, that resigned from their positions in disgrace and had apparently left behind a culture of mistrust, ineptitude and, according to Lee, harassment of other employees.
The seven members of the Newberg City Council – the all-volunteer wing of local government and, ultimately, the boss of both the city manager and city attorney – must now guide Clyne (or his replacement in a few months) through the city's response to Lee's claims and the counterclaims still to come from Brooks, Casey and Kosmicki. A concern, however, is that only one member has been on the council long enough to recall what has happened in the past and how that affects where the city is now.
It's a good sign that the council took the first step last week by accepting the findings of the investigation and directed Clyne to "take appropriate action in regard to the personnel issues that have arisen through the investigation," it said in a press release.
But a shift in the culture of city administration will not likely come without serious action. Our hope is that whomever occupies the city manager's office can determine the crux of the issues between these city departments and press for real change. Barring that, however, it may require that some employees are reprimanded or lose their jobs altogether if that is the only way to right this ship.
That would be an unfortunate scenario and one that we wouldn't welcome, but it's clear that substantial action should have been affected years ago and now the wound is such that it threatens the whole body of city government in Newberg.
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