Highway superintendent is employee involved in April 4 memo that triggered investigation into Clifton Park’s toxic environment – The Daily Gazette

Clifton Park – When the Clifton Park City Council voted in a separate resolution last month to hire an outside counsel to investigate toxicity inside Town Hall, board members said the problem arose with an April 4 memo from the city attorney to the city council describing a town official who was abusive and creating a work environment toxic;

The town official named in the memo was Highway Supervisor Dan Paul. Before the memo was released this week, it was not clear which city employees were involved.

In the memo, obtained by The Daily Gazette through a FOIL request, city attorney general Thomas McCarthy accuses Bull of sending an email to an administrative assistant that was “inappropriate, abusive, toxic and creates a clearly hostile work environment.”

The memo says Paul later apologized for the email. The problem relates to McCarthy’s claims that Bull tried to circumvent the typical equipment purchase review process, which involves the city’s attorney or the city’s superintendent looking into contracts and asking questions before the deal.

Paul said Thursday that he’s not trying to get around anyone, and he hasn’t changed anything about the way his department makes purchases since taking the job in 2016. While he admitted to apologizing for the email in question, he defended his public behavior.

“Throughout my years as a Highway Supervisor, I have had a cordial and honest working relationship with all of my fellow employees, and have never filed a formal complaint against me,” he wrote in a statement to the Daily Gazette on Thursday. . “I reject the ratings written in the memo about me and the Highway Administration.”

The release of the April 4 memo, along with the April 18 memo relating to City Council follow-up talks on the Highway Administration issue, provides the clearest information to date regarding the feud that has occurred within Town Hall.

City Supervisor Phil Barrett said the April 4 memo should clear up confusion about the workplace environment.

“As I’ve said since the beginning of the discussion, the toxic workplace issues that were identified have nothing to do with me,” Barrett said. “The erroneous narration regarding the memos expressed by certain members of the city council left the impression that the problem of the toxic workplace identified in the memos was mine.”

But council members who voted to hire an outside law firm to investigate the toxicity say there are other issues separate from the highway supervisor’s case that need to be considered, but they declined to provide details.

“There are other matters that need to be considered. I’ll leave it to that. I’ll leave it to that. Board member Amy Standart, who voted with board members Linda Walwitt and Amy Flood on May 16 to appoint attorney Hilary Moreira, of Bond and Schoeneck & King Attorneys, based in Garden City, said: New York.. To investigate workplace culture within Town Hall.

Standart said the workplace culture issue arose with McCarthy’s April 4 memo to the board.

“As an employer, when an employee makes any allegation using the phrase ‘hostile work environment,’ if we ignore that, we get in big trouble,” Standart said.

Moreira, of Bond, Schoeneck & King, has not initiated any investigation, Standaert, Walowit and Barrett confirmed on Thursday.

“I am in the process of trying to arrange a meeting with City Council and Bond and Schoeneck & King so we can discuss the next steps for the investigation,” Standart said.

Moreira was hired on May 16 at a rate of $335 per hour. Barrett and board member Anthony Morelli, who said he did not participate in the law firm’s interview, voted against the decision to hire the firm.

Barrett accused the three members of the all-Republican city council of hiring a law firm as a way to create controversy.

“There is no controversy here,” Walwett said Thursday, defending the move to hire an outside attorney as a way to ensure township employees feel comfortable in their jobs and have a way to file their grievances. “We do what’s right for people who work in the city.”

The feud between the highway director and the town’s attorney wasn’t the only personnel issue the town had dealt with recently.

At its June 13 meeting, the city council voted on the same 3-2 split not to appoint a hearing officer to consider disciplinary action involving a city employee. The decision said the hearing officer – according to Civil Service Division 75 – was to consider a disciplinary notice Barrett provided to a city employee on April 27. This discipline was the result of alleged incompetence arising from neglect of job duties.

In this case, Barrett and Morelli supported the appointment of the hearing officer, while Standart, Walluit, and Flood voted against it.

The hearing officer’s decision said the employee notified the town through a lawyer on May 5 that he had requested a hearing on disciplinary action. The employee is not a bull.

Before the board appointed an outside attorney on May 16, a town employee filed a complaint with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office alleging that Barrett got his hands on an employee.

No town official will confirm whether the April 27 disciplinary action mentioned in the hearing officer’s decision involved the same employee who filed the complaint with the mayor’s office.

But after the May 16 meeting, Barrett said, “A report was filed indicating some kind of physical altercation. This was following a very serious personal action that took place. I took a very serious counter action against an employee, and that appears to have followed.”

In McCarthy’s April 4 memo regarding the Superintendent of Highways, McCarthy told the city council that his office or the Comptroller’s Office is reviewing procurement “to provide a basic level of assurance,” that the agreement is being properly handled.

McCarthy said he has “noted a growing tendency for the highway superintendent to circumvent, abbreviate, evade or impede a meaningful review of his steps, means, and methods, beginning in early fall, and accelerating since the last election cycle in November.”

One stark example, McCarthy said, came in February when Paul placed an order for $1.3 million of plow trucks and related equipment. McCarthy said he has a number of questions about the proposed purchase, including the number of trucks, the price, their specific purpose and how they will be obtained.

McCarthy emailed Paul on February 22, saying he and the controller “don’t quite understand what you’re doing, and he’s offering to meet with you to clear it up.”

The next morning, Paul wrote, “We are simply ordering trucks here Tom,” adding that he had fulfilled his obligations to report the purchase to the Board. Four out of five board members accepted the memo and asked some questions, then offered their support. I see that we are all ready to move forward on this. I’m happy to work with (City Superintendent) Mark (Mark Haegan) on this, but any delay in these requests adds another month to the waiting list.”

The meeting did not happen, and as a result, McCarthy never drafted a resolution for the city council to consider procurement at the February 28 meeting.

On February 28, Paul sent a memo to the city council, attorney, and comptroller saying he intended to retain his part-time advisor to the Highway Safety and Highway Administration, according to McCarthy’s April 4 memo.

The attorney was never retained, but the idea vexed McCarthy, who described the February 28 memo as “extremely inappropriate, misleading, and, frankly, amazingly disingenuous.”

After a board meeting on February 28, McCarthy went on vacation. While he was away, Paul sent an email on March 2 to legal secretary Meg Springley, accusing McCarthy of “playing games,” by not putting the purchase on the agenda.

“Incredibly disappointing that your boss continues to play games. Actions like this only reinforce my decision to get out properly and seek my own legal advice and avoid this nonsense,” Paul wrote. “Tom (McCarthy) should be more professional than that, but I think it takes a lot. Amy (Standart) and I will discuss this with you tomorrow.”

The March 2 email was one that McCarthy described as offensive and toxic, believing it placed undue pressure on Springley “to jam a $1.3 million purchase on the agenda in the absence of my ability, without my ability to review it, and in disregard for our previous practice in the office.”

Paul provided Springley with details of answering McCarthy’s questions on March 3, and upon his return, McCarthy reviewed the information, drafted a resolution, and the city council eventually approved the purchases on March 14.

In his April 4 note, McCarthy said this purchase was just one example of “Paul’s tendency to cut short, confuse, impulsively, and impede my review of purchases and purchases.”

That April 4 memo prompted the city council to consider appointing a mediator to resolve the dispute between McCarthy and Paul. But McCarthy rejected the idea, leading the city council toward its divided decision to hire an outside counsel to investigate the general working environment inside Town Hall.

Paul said he had responded to McCarthy saying he was willing to meet with a mediator.

“While I reject the substance of the memo, I have taken these events incredibly seriously and will continue to do so,” Ball said in a written statement. “My honest and well-intentioned offer to meet more and with the help of a mediator was ignored.”

Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.

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Categories: Clifton Park and Halfmoon, Saratoga County

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