St. Helens Finance Director on paid administrative leave
Details are few, but St. Helens is investigating its finance director, Matt Brown. City Administrator John Walsh says the investigation stems from workplace conduct.
"He has been placed on administrative leave," Walsh told the Spotlight. "We're conducting an investigation on workplace conduct and performance."
Unlike an independent investigation into City Councilor Stephen Topaz that resulted in his censure and reprimand in May of 2021, Walsh said Brown's investigation is internal and the legal team will be involved.
The Topaz investigation included an accusation that he bullied staff and behaved in a discriminatory manner.
Brown has been on paid administrative leave since mid-July. Walsh said the council was notified at a recent executive session.
The Spotlight reached out to Topaz for comment on the Brown investigation.
"As you know, I've been censured and the council and Walsh haven't told me a hell of a lot about anything," Topaz said. "There is a huge amount of confusion, that's for sure, but there is no information on my end."
Topaz continued, "I should be getting it, and I should be able to tell you what's going on, but our system, the way they've set it up, and obviously the way I pushed it, isn't going to get me any information … I'd love to tell you, but I don't have anything."
Fellow councilor Patrick Birkle, also contacted by the Spotlight, said, "I feel that John (Walsh)followed appropriate procedures at least in terms of my getting the information."
Birkle, while not commenting on the investigation itself, added, "Everything's being handled in an appropriate way."
Efforts to reach Mayor Rick Scholl, as well as councilors Doug Morten and Jessica Chilton, were not successful.
Walsh would not say how long the investigation would take, but that "It's ongoing and we're making some traction."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.