News

Report spreads blame for Cal Ave tree debacle

Staff members were distracted by deadlines for a pivotal library bond project, report says

A confidential personnel report cites multiple errors by several city staff members for a failure in public outreach in the removal of 63 mature trees on California Avenue in September 2009.

The executive summary of a longer report prepared early in 2010 was e-mailed to the Weekly and other newspapers by a "John Doe."

City Manager James Keene told the Weekly that he had not seen the report until today, and that it was "not an authorized release of what appears to be a draft report." He said officials wanted to be sure it was "complete and signed and accurate."

Assistant City Attorney Donald Larkin said it is the city's policy not to release personnel reports naming lower-level city employees.

Ironically, the errors cited related to failures in public awareness and outreach, not whether the trees should have been removed wholesale. A plan to replace the trees had been in the works for several years, but in a phased rather than all at the same time. It is unclear from the executive summary whether the extent of the tree removal was known by more than a few staff members.

The document listed Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie, Planning Director Curtis Williams and Senior Project Engineer Karen Bengard as having made decisions that set the tree debacle in motion -- which created a huge public outcry.

The human-resources department, city attorney's office and city manager's office kept the report confidential, according to a follow-up e-mail sent to the Weekly by "John Doe."

Sandra Blanch, assistant director of human resources, told the Weekly that she wrote the report in early 2010 for human resources Director Russ Carlsen. The report does not say what, if any, discipline took place for the errors.

Palo Alto city engineers "failed to thoroughly perform their duties as established in their job descriptions," a fact-finding team looking into the matter wrote. The team consisted of Trina Glanville, an HR administrator, and Jane Ratchye, the Utilities assistant director, with help from Blanch and Marcie Scott, an HR administrator.

The report criticized senior engineers for failure to conduct public outreach, to properly oversee staff and to follow contract and code-compliance policies.

But the report states project managers were under stress because of a large library-bond project was being reviewed by the City Council. As a result, the California Avenue treescape and redesign project fell through the cracks.

In addition to pinning responsibility on Woojae Kim, an engineer in the Public Works department, the report pointed to other senior staff, including Bengard, who reportedly did not follow through on the project's oversight or outreach. Kim, meanwhile, failed to follow instructions regarding a 14-day delay on the tree removal, which would have allowed for an appeal of the plan by members of the public, and for failing to provide adequate public notice of the removals.

Blanch said the document was internal and would not have been made public because it includes personnel information and can't be disclosed.

But the report does show several decisions that led to a breakdown in public outreach and notification of high-level staff that might have been able to prevent the clear-cutting.

Staff largely allowed decision-making by one segment of the public -- the California Avenue Area Development Association (CAADA)-- conducting meetings and tailoring the project along the lines of CAADA's direction, according to the report.

Staff could have sought a full Architectural Review Board review of the project, which would have provided further opportunity for public and official scrutiny, according to the report. But city planners viewed the streetscaping project as "minor" after a streetlight-replacement component was eliminated, and thus it did not need a full Architectural Review Board review.

Steve Emslie, deputy city manager, also decided the revision to the project -- focusing on trees and not streetlights -- would not need a city manager's report, which typically would be read by the City Council. Instead, the revision to the plan was noted in the Capital Improvements Program budget. The budget is also read by the City Council, but is hundreds of pages long.

"This investigation revealed that there was no outreach plan established, resulting in staff failing to follow through on a department management directive," the report found.

Emslie said he would not be able to comment on "an unattributed and unsigned e-mail I have not seen. I would be very happy to comment on the investigation once it's released by the city."

Public Works Director Glenn Roberts did instruct Bengard to conduct public outreach on the tree re-landscaping project and "there was discussion of meeting the week of Aug. 17, 2009, to plan the outreach strategy," the report found.

Senior engineers are supposed to manage contracts, code compliance and public relations and to coordinate planning within the department, with external agencies and with the public, the report said.

But Bengard and Project Engineer Debra Jacobs, who took over for Bengard when Bengard went on vacation, told investigators they were occupied with preparing documents for the Library Bond project, which was to be discussed by the council on Sept. 14, 2009 -- the same day the trees were cut down, the report noted.

Bengard had directed Woojae Kim to conduct the public outreach, but she did not follow through on proper supervision, the report said. Kim planned to distribute a flyer on Sept. 3. He had been instructed to send out a public notice at least 10 days prior to the tree removal.

Bengard sent an e-mail to Kim saying she wanted to hold a meeting "to make sure we're all on the same page," after making revisions to the flyer, but she instead left for vacation on Sept. 8.

Bengard failed to inform senior management about the impending tree removal, according to the report. Assistant Public Works Director Mike Sartor came into the office Sept. 4 on a scheduled vacation day to receive an update from Bengard prior to her vacation on pending projects. But "the California Avenue project doesn't come up," he said.

Bengard said during the investigation that the high workload was an issue and she was focused on the larger library-bond project, which she was managing. During her absence, Jacobs took a "hands off approach" with the project, as she was unaware of the details and was consumed with the library project, the report noted.

Jacobs also said she forgot to tell Sartor about the tree project.

Bengard said she assumed internal meetings were being set up while she was out of town, since Kim and Elizabeth Ames, senior engineer, and Kate Rooney, the project manager the previous San Antonio Road rebuilding and tree-removal project, were brought in to help with outreach.

Rooney, however, said the outreach effort for San Antonio Road would not work for California Avenue because San Antonio took a full year to plan and included eight public meetings. There were just three weeks for outreach on the California project. Rooney drafted a notification flyer but "due to failed feedback" from public works staff she could not finalize the flyer.

Ames had recommended holding off distribution of the flyer until the outreach group had feedback from the public-works administration and the city manager's office. But Kim "proceeded ahead without heeding to these recommendations," the report found.

"Proper supervision would have included specific direction from Karen while she was on vacation. Karen should have given specific direction to Debra if she was going to be in charge or to direct Woojae to not begin the project until public outreach was thoroughly completed," investigators concluded.

Staff worked with the California Avenue Area Development Association (CAADA) on outreach, conducting meetings and tailoring the project along the lines of CAADA's direction, according to the report. (CAADA has since been dissolved as an organization and replaced with a Chamber of Commerce committee on California Avenue issues.)

When CAADA reviewed plans for streetlight options as part of the overall streetscape revitalization, the board decided to focus on tree replacement instead. Assistant Public Works Director Mike Sartor told Bengard that staff "may need to get back to Council on the revised scope of this CIP (capital improvement project)."

In April 2009, however, Bengard met with Emslie to discuss how to adjust the project, the report said. It was decided to revise the project's description in the CIP budget rather than prepare a separate informational city manager's report highlighting the changes, the report said.

The streetscape project needed to go through the full Architectural Review Board process while the street lights were still part of the plan. But in an April 20 e-mail, Planner Clare Campbell said that she believed that if CAADA was amenable to a staff-level review of the rest of the project items (including the trees), "That's the way to go."

Staff also did not view the tree replacement as a major project, according to the report. Curtis Williams, director of planning and community environment, agreed with Campbell that "elements of the project were not sufficient to be a 'major' project requiring full ARB review, as it did not involve street-light replacement, the tree replacement and other elements (trash cans, newspaper racks, benches and kiosk) were minor in nature," Campbell noted.

Williams could not be immediately reached for comment on the report or sequence of events.

There is no indication that staff questioned replacing all the trees at one time, despite a recommendation that 29 trees be retained after a 2007 tree survey determined the trees' condition, according to the report. But staff followed CAADA's direction to "bite the bullet and replace all the trees now," after the streetlights were taken out of the project, according to the report.

The Public Works Department outlined a series of corrective actions for the future, including requiring all project construction notices to proceed to be approved by Sartor. Projects would be tracked on a spreadsheet, including public-outreach dates, board, commission and council meetings and staffing so members would know who was assigned to each aspect of a project.

Monthly meetings would be held to review project progress with staff, and all projects would be reviewed with the planning department.

A recommendation for discipline involving staff was to be addressed separately, the report stated.

View the executive summary.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Inside Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Time to finish the clean out of City Hall. Finish the sweep out of Public Works, then go on to Human Resources and keep going.


Like this comment
Posted by Inside Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Karen Bengard is one of the best engineers the City of Palo has ever had on staff. She is not political. She is a straight shooter and very competent.

This looks like a frame-up job, possibly by HR, the Public Works Director or the Public Works Assistant Director, to find a scapegoat.


Like this comment
Posted by havegunwill travel
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Keene,Emslie,and Williams need to "man Up", and take responsiblility for what happened. In the Navy, if a ship goes aground, they don't sack the Helmsman, the skipper is relieved of duty instead, and there is a court of inquiry. Trying to blame this on lower level staff, is both unprofessional, and dishonest. So, Mr. Keene, stand up and take the hit.


Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm

How does the Weekly know it has a report that hasn't been doctored in some way? The Post seemed to really question the authenticity of the document, while the Weekly seems quite accepting.


Like this comment
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

The city confirmed the 8-page report.


Like this comment
Posted by Bambi
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:25 pm

OK you better not point a finger at Ms Karen Bengard one of the hardest working employees this city has ever seen. We are so very lucky to have her. This blame game has to stop. The Dept Manager has to take the blame and lets move on folks. This is getting ridiculous. What heads will roll? and roll ? when do we stop. Come on lets be serious and focus on real issues A mistake was made we all know that now lets learn and move on and stop acting like children pointing fingers at everyone. With all of the cut backs and less doing more like everyone else it is no wonder there are errors. Lets get together and stop tearing each other apart. Its TREES folks and we are so very lucky we live here and we are not having floods and real problems. We live in the best city and we should appreciate all the great work many do and stop when one thing goes wrong wasting so much time on that one issue. We have a lot more pressing issues to focus on.


Like this comment
Posted by jerome
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm

How come the city didn't release this investigation when it was completed? Sounds like a cover-up to me. Which is becoming the norm at the city. Just a couple of weeks ago, the name of that cop who got the DUI came out, despite the city's best efforts to keep it a secret.


Like this comment
Posted by J9oneill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Will it really make a difference to the situation to (now) sit and point fingers at this horrible wrong doing? Doubt it! I say Just get to reprod and plant all those trees! Really disgusted with the overall happening and will be happy when you can look down California Ave. once again and see nicely grown trees....after all, isn't Palo Alto "The City of Trees?" Quit pointing and finish planting.


Like this comment
Posted by Jaco
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Why is this still an issue?

In 5 years when those trees are more mature people will be saying "Keene, Emslie, Williams." those men were geniuses for turning this once decrepit business district into a walkable lovely canopy of trees that don't drip sap all over everything.

Once they widen the sidewalks and turn it into a one way street Cal Ave will be gentrified and IMO much MUCH better than it was before.


Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2010 at 6:05 pm

This is a personnel issue and by law, both state and federal, it is a confidential matter that is illegal to make public. Whom ever released this information to the press should be held accountable as it is criminal.

In my opinion, the Palo Alto Weekly is now no longer a legitimate news organization. You have stooped to a new low. Shame on you. I now hold you at the same level as the rag papers that make us all laugh at the check out line.


Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm

David,

Kudos to the Weekly for reporting on this investigation. Would you prefer that this all be kept from the residents of Palo Alto? This is exactly what the press should be doing. The report should have been released by the city; it is a factual presentation of what happened, with no disciplinary actions described.


Like this comment
Posted by confused
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Is this going to be an issue at all when Calif Ave is being re-developed? There are some article in recent PA Weeklies saying that folks are contemplating changing it to be more like Castro Street. So if this comes to pass, then won't existing trees have to be ripped out anyway?


Like this comment
Posted by howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Absurd overblown nonsense about cutting down some trees that are being replanted. What a bunch of crybabies. Treating trees as if they are human beings. Overly sentimental self-indulgent fools.


Like this comment
Posted by Lux
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Sunshine is a great disinfectant when appied to an ethically challenged governmental orgainzation like that of the City of Palo Alto.

Spin as they might try to at City Hall, the truth will eventually come out. Instead of spin and cover-up that is the standard practice for Palo Alto, why not just have clean, honest government in which there are no scandals to hush up in the first place?


Like this comment
Posted by Lucky
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:51 pm

The sudden loss of the trees is a shame. These kinds of mistakes will be happening more often due to staff reductions and ever increasing work loads. The public needs to lower their expectations and stop complaining about relatively minor mistakes if they're not willing to pay more for good public service. Revenue losses are severe. If you don't vote no on Prop 26, you'll exaserbate the problem even more.


Like this comment
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Palo Alto is a noted leader in GREEN programs. This is confirmed by the number of dim bulbs installed in management positions.


Like this comment
Posted by Jan
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Trees are KEY for the beauty of our streets and walkways, and for shade...AND trees do help our air as well. Slashing so many trees was not wise or logical. Good Grief!


Like this comment
Posted by Jimmy
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 27, 2010 at 2:11 am

I really do care about this issue, but I am also exhausted by it. I must point to a quote from the great Humungus from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior; "There has been too much violence. Too much pain. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away."

I want to learn from the debacle, but I also want the flame wars to end.


Like this comment
Posted by CHinCider
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 27, 2010 at 7:53 am

a quote from the article:

"City Manager James Keene told the Weekly that he had not seen the report until today.........."

What???!!! How can that possibly be the case? According to the article and confirmed by the City the report has been out for 6 months! Did Keene's staff conspire to keep it from him? Did it sit on his desk unread? Or, maybe is his statement a very smooth attempt at "plausable deniability", in that he literally had not seen it, but was aware of it.

His staff could have told him verbally what was in it and he decided he didn't want to "see" the written document so he could deny it later.

This is a page right out of the Nixon and Clinton tactics manual on how to spin government issues so as to CYA.

Does anyone really believe that the Palo Alto City Manager would not have been made aware of a report from his HR Department on such a sensitive and controversial issue? IF you believe that one I've got a bridge I will sell you - cheap!


Like this comment
Posted by Jaco
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2010 at 10:20 am

Once again, only would this be an issue in the bubble known as Palo Alto.

Seems like howard is the only rational person on this board. Cal Avenue is disgusting and needs to be cleaned up. This is just one step in its gentrification. Personally I'm excited to see the new trees. The old ones were nasty and diseased anyway.

Next step is going from 4 lanes to 2 and widening the sidewalk. Maybe someday Cal Ave can be a mini downtown with restaurants with sidewalk seating. More walk friendly retail etc.

Why do people have a problem with this?! I think Palo Alto should do this more often to actually make real changes to this city. Without having to deal with all you crybabies who have no real issues to complain about.


Like this comment
Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2010 at 11:07 am

How can you or anyone else support reducing traffic lanes? especialy in a shopping district? It's not like this is a planned district like the walk in Universal City.
Where would the cars be parked for the people visiting that area? I'm sure the residents on companies on the streets surrounding California Ave don't feel they should have the increased traffic?
California Ave is a street that serves a train station also.
Palo Alto keeps adding housing but never seems to figure in how this will affect traffic congestion? instead they keep reducing traffic lanes. So now people are stuck in traffic jams (look at Arastradero Road. Look at the intersection infront of Paly High in the morning. The vehicles not moving increase pollution and cost people time which equals less quality of life and less productivity.
Palo Alto was not a planned community engineered to function on reduction of roadways.
Instead the City Council keeps closing streets and pushing traffic onto other peoples streets. The number of cars is not reducing, the number of people is not reducing. The City Council just voted down a HSR stop in PA. Which will equal more cars driving into Palo Alto on a daily basis. I don't see any street cars or light rail systems on the drawing board for Palo Alto.
Reduce the number of lanes on California Ave and one car backing out will snare traffic as cars stop to let them out or while another car waits for that spot when they see the driver placing a bag in the trunk before getting into their car.
I agree that California Ave would look great as some sort of open plaza with trees, tables, fountains, etc but there has to be a system and plan in place for dealing with the reality of vehicles and parking. Also the people on surrounding streets should not be impacted by the added traffic when the reduce or close California Ave.
Doing anything like that only pushes the traffic and problem somehwere else. And when it becomes a big hassle to get someplace in PA, drive, park, etc. people will simply avoid Palo Alto. Not everyone can or wants to walk or bike around on a regular basis. Even car poolers need streets and parking. Palo Alto is not and was never Europe. Like it or not private vehicles are part of our history and have shapped the design and planning of our Cities.


Like this comment
Posted by Following the story
a resident of Southgate
on Oct 27, 2010 at 11:17 am

a quote from the article:


"City Manager James Keene told the Weekly that he had not seen the report until today.........."


A reader replied: What???!!! How can that possibly be the case?

**************************************************************

I believe Keene was referring to the "leaked" report- it could have been fraudulent. It's not prudent for him to confirm the document until he saw it. That's reasonable.

But remember when city council said it too was shocked when the trees came down? Yet they voted on the trees being replaced. Wouldn't you think they'd have asked HOW it could happen?

Bottom line: if there is credit to be had among these people, they want it. If there is blame to be placed, they shy from it.

All City Managers were asleep at the wheel in this instance- there were no leaders where the buck stopped at them.

As for the report, it is information collected by the City. It too, most likely has large gaps. The truth will never be known.


Like this comment
Posted by Inside Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2010 at 11:24 am

Whatever happened to the idea of accountability?

Instead, we see the old military bureaucratic tactic at play: "**** rolls downhill". Translation: shove the blame down to the lowest possible level to keep the guys above clear of any responsibility.


Like this comment
Posted by CHinCider
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 27, 2010 at 11:48 am

To "inside observer" -

It looks like Palo Alto upper management thought they had created the appearance of accountability by making Roberts the scapegoat and paying him off to go away. That might have worked until this new information became available showing what really happened. I'll bet Roberts is getting a good chuckle over all this as he takes his hush money and runs!


Like this comment
Posted by Peter
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Oct 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm

For all of you who say "it is just trees".
Where do you think you get the air you breathe?????
From the exhaust from your car?
Trees matter even much more than has been advocated.
Deforestation, urban sprawl - we are slowly cutting off
our own life support system.
Need to cycle our priorities back to the hidden foundation
of our life An it is not to be found in your electronic devices
we all love, including me.


Like this comment
Posted by Paula
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm

The trees were replanted in January and the project was a huge success. Why are some people in this link still trying to educate the rest of us on the importance of trees?

That's not the point. We should all agree that trees are important, I would hope. There are always those few people that dislike everything, including trees, and nothing will please them.

The point it how the process was handled and if Palo Alto residents are getting good representation from City council & City workers.

How many posters to this blog have even been to California Avenue, to SEE the new trees are already planted and they are growing well? No wonder we have a reputation as a city for whining so much.


Like this comment
Posted by who cares
a resident of Triple El
on Oct 27, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Too funny! Another day, another city scandel! Talk about a dysfunctional management group. City Manager Keene whose motto is "the glass is always half empty" claims he has not seen the report? OK, so where is the official executive report and when was he planning on releasing it to the public. Steve Emslie says he will comment on the investigation once it's released by the city. OK, where is the official report and does it really take a year to do an investigation on tree removal? Always enjoy watching senior management try to cover their tracks meanwhile throwing their low-level employees to the media to fend for themselves. The report by HR staff was obviously setup to blame low-level employees for management mistakes and Glanville and Blanch should be ashamed for kowtowing to senior management to save their jobs. Keene and Emslie will have their due course as the public becomes aware of their underhanded tactics. No wonder city employees are fleeing this sinking ship.


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Congratulations. Palo Alto has earned the title BOULDER WEST....

Now to lock in the title, turn California Ave. into a Pearl Street Mall setup...

Web Link

Let the Birkenstock Bunch take over...complete with the same lack of accountability...


Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2010 at 11:34 pm

CHinCider,

Your thoughts on this are the same as mine, but let me throw one more thing into the mix.

This Cal Ave report is old news. Strange it should be sent anonymously to the press right after the City ousted Glen Roberts.

Think there is a connection?


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 28, 2010 at 12:43 am

Meanwhile in another part of town, a group of over-protective moms have dealt a death sentence for the giant majestic trees in Pardee Park. Where is the outrage for that?


Like this comment
Posted by Wondering
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2010 at 6:25 am

CHinCinder,

HR (Sandra Blanch and Russ Carlsen) were playing Keene's tune and clearing the way for Asssitant PW Director Sartor to take over Glen Roberts' empty chair as PW Director by in effect exonerating Sartor. The point of the report seems to be to pin the blame on staff level engineers. Sartor had the operational/managerial responsibility for this fiasco, but that's part is given short shrift in the Blanch/Carlsen report.

Its typical for the Palo Alto organization to be devious.

THey think they're so slick. I don't think so.


Like this comment
Posted by CHinCider
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 28, 2010 at 8:55 am

To "Outside Observer" -

I think the answer to your (possibly rhetorical?) question above is contained in "Wondering"s posting immediately above this post.

Best,
CinC


Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I guess the Council is being prepared to approve the appointment of Mike Sartor as the new Public Works Director because Kent Steffens doesn't want to leave his job in Menlo Park and return to Palo Alto where he formerly held Sartor's current position.

The comments in the article by City Manager Keene, Interim City Attorney Larkin, and Deputy City Manager Emslie are the best summary of top management's view of the investigation report.

(Emslie, the former Director of Planning and Community Environment has half his salary attributed to that department's budget and is effectively the department director, where Director Williams just has the title and salary but not the ultimate planning authority that Emslie has over planning issues. Emslie in the City Manager's office also had the authority to coordinate the activiites of Public Works and Planning on the California Avenue tree cutting and attempted cover up. He needed someone in the attorney's office to help him.)

Here are the remarks of Keene, Larkin, and Emslie as reported by the Weekly:

City Manager James Keene told the Weekly that he had not seen the report until today, and that it was "not an authorized release of what appears to be a draft report." He said officials wanted to be sure it was "complete and signed and accurate."

Assistant City Attorney Donald Larkin said it is the city's policy not to release personnel reports naming lower-level city employees.

Emslie said he would not be able to comment on "an unattributed and unsigned e-mail I have not seen. I would be very happy to comment on the investigation once it's released by the city."


Like this comment
Posted by Wondering
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Jury is out on Keene, but this whole sorry cover-up had frame-up job proves that the rest of the Benest era people just have to go for their to be clean government in Palo Alto. Carlsen is retiring soon, so that's a start. But Blanch, Sartor, and the rest of the City Hall "politicians" just have to go.


Like this comment
Posted by CHinCider
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Sandra Blanch is one of the hardest working, most honest, ethical, and apolitical people in City Hall. She desrves no fault or blame in all of this mess. The resposibility rests with the City Manger's office, who suposedly hadn't read a report that had been out for 6 months.


Like this comment
Posted by Inside Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 29, 2010 at 9:09 am

It does look like there is an attempt to orchestrate Sartor's appointment as interim or permanent Public Works Director instead of coneducting a legitimate national search to replace Glen Roberts.

Kent Steffens is an honest guy, a fine engineer, and not a politician. He would be an ideal repalcement for Roberts.

What really needs to happen is that the remaining top management of Public Works, Mike Sartor that is, needs to be broomed out to finish the housecleaning of that department. Start fresh with new people at the top who are engineers, not politicians.


Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Oct 29, 2010 at 3:40 pm

The remaining top management includes Assistant Director of Public Works for Operations Paul Dornell who previously reported to the former Deputy Director of Public Works for Operations.

Dornell was then promoted to Assitant Director for Operations in the Utilities Department as part of the clean up in the Utilities Department when it was headed by John Ulrich.

Glenn Roberts wanted Dornell back in Public Works but couldn't get him to agree to replace the Deputy Director of Public Works for Operations because Dornell was getting a higher salary in Utilities than his old boss in Public Works.

So Roberts convinced City Manager Frank Benest and the City Council to upgrade the title of the head of Public Works Operations when the post became vacant by changing the job classifcation from Deputy Director to Assistant Director and then gave that job to Dornell who gladly left the Utilities Department that is now being investigated by the Federal government for falsifications of qualifying tests in the Gas utility part of the Utilities Operations Division.


Like this comment
Posted by CHinCider
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 29, 2010 at 6:02 pm

To "Deep Throat" -

Dornell is smarter than the rest of them - he had already announced his retirement even before Roberts "announced" his.


Like this comment
Posted by Wondering
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

Clean out the Public Works top management.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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