Agendas and Minutes

Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Special Meeting Minutes

Minutes
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

SPECIAL MEETING
MINUTES

January 11, 2011

ATTENDANCE

Present:         Commissioners Eggers, Landt, Lewis, Rosenthal; Director Robertson; Superintendent Dials

Absent:       Commissioner Seffinger; Superintendent Gies

CALL TO ORDER

Rosenthal called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. at the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer.

PUBLIC INPUT

None

PERSONNEL POLICY MODIFICATIONS WITHIN PARKS EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK

Robertson directed the commission’s attention to his January 11 memo in which he referenced an email from Landt who suggested including two additional statements in the Parks employee handbook under section 8.2: Causes for Warnings, Suspension, or Dismissal:

1.       Any employee found guilty of a felony crime unrelated to their Parks employment will be terminated.

2.       Any employee who Parks Department management determines has stolen Parks property, appropriated equipment or tools for private use, or engaged in illegal activity on the job will be terminated.

Robertson said the City Attorney and City Personnel Director reviewed both statements and thought item #1 was too broad (later changed to “too specific”) and subjected the department to potential wrongful termination practices while the second statement was acceptable and strengthened the current policy. He said Landt also suggested adding a section about whistle blower protection that would be in compliance with state and federal laws and provide for protection of employees coming forward with sensitive information. With regard to the suggestion that the commission completely review the Parks employee handbook at the March 28 meeting, Robertson said he started the process six months earlier when he met with members of the Parks employee association and the City Personnel Director. He said a March 28 completion target for a commission review was realistic. In answer to a question about a missing point #3, he said he inadvertently omitted the suggestion about an employee knowing of crimes being committed but not reporting them being complicit. He said that during the ethics training sessions with all Parks employees (in December 2010) he notified staff of their moral and legal obligations to the organization to report crimes. Robertson recommended including similar language in the manual. When asked about similar wording for the City’s personnel manual, Robertson said the City did not have a personnel manual but union groups within the City had contracts that did not include whistleblower clauses.

Commissioners and Robertson talked about changing the Parks work culture so employees would feel free to express concerns without fear of retribution. Rosenthal said a system was needed to allow for confidentiality and he mentioned a confidential suggestion box for employees to use in reporting issues. Robertson said he would do everything in his power to maintain the confidentiality of employees coming forward but if an event involved criminal activity, he would be required to report it to the police.

MOTION Landt moved to direct the Ashland Parks and Recreation Director to include a provision in the Parks employee handbook stating that any employee who Parks Department management determined had stolen Parks property, appropriated equipment or tools for private use, or engaged in illegal activity on the job would be terminated. Eggers seconded the motion.

Discussion of Motion

Landt said recent Parks Department events had brought the commission to this point. He said the language change (from “may be terminated” to “would be terminated”) reflected the commission’s determination to end practices occurring within the Parks Department. Rosenthal suggested amending the motion to include an additional clause:  “… stolen Parks property, participated in unauthorized use of city resources, appropriated equipment or tools for private use, or engaged in illegal activity...”. Landt suggested replacing “appropriated equipment or tools for private use” with Rosenthal’s phrase. The motion was amended as follows:

AMENDED MOTION Landt moved to direct the Parks Director or his designee to include a provision in the Parks employee handbook stating that any employee who Parks Department management determines has stolen Parks property, participated in unauthorized use of city resources, or engaged in illegal activity on the job will be terminated. Eggers seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

MOTION Landt moved to direct the Parks Director or his designee to notify all Parks employees in writing, within one month, that if they have knowledge of stolen Parks property, of participation in unauthorized use of city resources, or about engagement in illegal activity on the job and they do not report them to the Parks Director or his designee, they will be terminated, with this taking effect after all employees have been notified. Eggers seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

MOTION Landt moved to direct the Parks Director to complete a review and update of the Parks employee handbook, including a whistleblower clause, for presentation at the March 28 regular meeting. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

REVIEW DRAFT PUBLIC STATEMENT REGARDING RECENT PARKS PERSONNEL ISSUES AND PREPARE CORRESPONDENCE TO PARKS EMPLOYEES

Robertson said a draft communication was prepared in response to the employee petition in support of L. Shane Peabody. Landt suggested stating, in the final paragraph, that the commission looked forward to working with the Parks Director to strengthen policies and procedures to ensure that recent events were not repeated and that collective reputations were restored. He also suggested inserting the word “recent” in the third sentence of the first paragraph so the sentence would read, “The Parks Commission fully supports the Parks Director’s recent employment-related decisions – including the most difficult and serious one – termination.”

MOTION Eggers moved to direct staff to send the approved Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission letter to all Ashland Parks and Recreation employees, as amended by Landt, as soon as possible. Landt seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

Rosenthal said he wrote a draft public statement in response to recent Parks personnel issues before reading the draft version prepared by staff. He suggested that the commission draft a statement and then incorporate it into a press release. Landt disagreed and said the completed public statement, three motions, and the memo to employees was sufficient and further work would be duplicative and unnecessary. Rosenthal disagreed and said a press release, written collectively by the commission, would be appropriate. He read his draft public statement aloud and Landt said it was well written and more palatable than the press release drafted by staff. The press release read as follows:

“The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission took action tonight and commits to supporting the Ashland Parks and Recreation Director in restoring public trust.

 “As stewards of taxpayer funds, the governing body of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department strives to nurture a healthy work environment based on honesty and integrity.

“We acknowledge and value the outstanding work of the many trustworthy, hard-working Ashland Parks and Recreation Department employees whose honesty and reputations have been questioned as a result of recent allegations and arrests.”

Rosenthal asked to have the wording incorporated into a press release format and distributed to the press and to Parks staff.

MOTION Landt moved to adopt this as the complete press release, to be distributed to the press and Parks staff. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, Rosenthal adjourned the meeting at 8:04 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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