Camp Verde Council considers sanctions against Baker, German
CAMP VERDE - Vice Mayor Jackie Baker described the results of an independent investigation by Amy Lieberman into complaints filed by Camp Verde Marshal's Office employees as "a lot of opinions, hearsay and innuendos."
Wednesday, council will discuss the results of the investigation into allegations against Baker, council member Carol German and Camp Verde resident Cheri Wischmeyer - and may also impose sanctions on any or all council members, according to Town Council Policies, Rules and Procedures, Section 15.10 and 15.11.
In August, council first agreed to hire an independent investigator to determine whether allegations of excessive public records requests, including employee pay, performance, disciplinary, background, polygraph and job requirements were valid. The summary includes interviews from council and Town employees. Baker said she "was disappointed with the report."
"I just didn't really think it was a finding of exact facts," Baker said. "I know what I did and didn't do."
Council member Robin Whatley said she hopes that council can "police ourselves so these things cannot happen in the future."
Said Whatley, "I'd like us to move forward, tighten up our policies and procedures, so that council members cannot overstep their bounds."
Mayor Charlie German also said he would like to see council "get this thing solved" and move past the investigation.
"Somehow or another, we got off track here," Mayor German said. "I would like to extend my hand to council, to let our manager handle the issues at hand. I accept the report from the attorneys and the conclusions. I would like to see us start on the recommendations, make sure the policies and procedures are clear, start on additional training, and get started on those things we need changed. That's what I hope."
Council may vote to hear this matter in executive session.
A complete copy of the executive summary can be found at www.campverde.az.gov/2014/12/executive-summary-employee-complaint/. According to council member German's official response, the executive summary "contains many statements that are based only on hearsay and innuendo rather than substantiated by proven fact."
"Council persons are elected by the public to represent them," council member German's response stated. "This includes being receptive and responsive to their concerns and needs ... I have always had the best interest of the citizens and the Town in everything I do."
According to council member Brad Gordon, Lieberman and Town Attorney Bill Sims "agree with the majority of Town Council that the council-manager relationship has been violated. And we're going to try to rectify the situation."
Council's Dec. 17 regular session will be held at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers, 473 S. Main St. #106. A copy of the agenda is available at: www.campverde.az.gov/government/town-clerk/agendas-minutes-actions/town-council/2014-2/.
After consideration of the totality of circumstances and Council Member's intent, the Mayor should consider whether any enforcement action is warranted, in accordance with Council Policies, Rules and Procedures, Section 15.10 and 11.
Training for Council on the Council-Manager form of government, including what actions are prohibited, would be beneficial. "Inquiries" and attempts to "verify" information, if accompanied by requests for documents and/or with a goal of changing procedures and outcomes of proper processes, can cross the line - or come close to it - and be considered improper interference with administrative or personnel matters. Such training could include respectful communication and conflict de-escalation techniques. A "mini-retreat" - or periodic mini-retreats - may be useful in aiding council in focusing on the goal of teamwork and improved communications between Council and between Council and staff.
All Council Members, Officials and interested parties should be mindful that no one likes to have the implication that they are accused of being a "criminal." Even if a person violates a Town Code provision, there must be a prosecution and conviction before a misdemeanor violation can exist. And, a conclusion of "violation of Town Code" - even if it seems obvious to a layperson - is ultimately a conclusion for the Town Attorney or other prosecuting authority.
Counseling may be warranted for the Town Clerk with respect to separation of personal and professional interests, to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.
It would be beneficial for people who feel they are being "targeted" to have private, facilitated, direct discussions with those they believe are being targeted, to clear the air. Where appropriate, acknowledgement of harm from statements made or from unintended consequences, and apologies, can go a long way to improve and heal relationships.
Steps are being taken to retain a part-time independent Human Resource person, which should continue to be pursued as a priority.
Steps are also being taken to update the Records Management Manual, which should also be pursued as a priority.