Fox Report findings, conclusions and recommendations

Feb. 06, 2013 @ 05:23 PM

Following is the findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations from the city report: 

Findings of fact

1. Article IV, Section 4.1, Form of Government of the Monroe City Chamber states, "The City shall operate under Council/Manager form of government in accordance with Part 2 of Article 7 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes."

2. Article IV, Section 4.2 further provides as follows:

 "The council shall appoint a City Manager who shall be responsible for the administration of all departments of City government. The City Manager shall have all the pwoers and duties conferred by general law, except as expressly limited by the provisions of the Charter, and the additional powers and duties conferred by the Council, do far as authorized general law."

3. Part 2 of Article 7 of Chapter 160A of the General Statues reads in relevant parts as follows:

"In cities where Charters provide for the Council-Manager form of government, the Council shall appoint a City Manager to serve at its pleasure. The Manager shall be appointed solely on the basis of the manager's executive and administrative qualifications. The Manager need not be a resident of the City or State at the time of appointment. The office of City Manager is hereby declared to be an office that may be held concurrently with other appointive (but not elective) offices pursuant to Article VI, Section 9 of the Constitution."

The Article goes on to provide under North General Statutes (sic) 160A-147 the powers and duties of the Manager. This statute reads as follows:

"The Manager shall be the chief administrator of the City. He shall be responsible to the Council for administering all municipalities affairs placed in his charge by them, and shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) He shall appoint and suspend or remove all City officers and employees not elected by the people, and who's appointment or removal is not otherwise provided for by law, except the City Attorney, in accordance with such general personnel rules, regulations, policies, or ordinances as the Council may adopt.

(2) He shall direct and supervise the administration of all departments, offices, and agencies of the City, subject to the general direction and control of the Council except as otherwise provided by law.

(3) He shall attend all meetings of the Council and recommend any measures that he deems expedient.

(4) He shall see that all laws of the State, the City Charter, and the ordinances, resolutions, regulations of the Council are faithfully executed within the City.

(5) He shall prepare and submit the annual budget and capital program to the Council.

(6) He shall annually submit to the Council and make available to the public a complete report on the finances and administrative activities of the City as of the end of the fiscal year.

(7) He shall make any other reports that the Council may require concerning the operations of City departments, offices, and agencies subject to his direction and control.

(8) He shall perform any other duties that may be required or authorized by the Council"

4. The Council/Manager form of government promotes the separation of the Council's responsibility for political judgements and policy direction from the City Manager's responsibility for administration in accordance with Council's overall policy guidance and his own politically neutral expertise.

5. The City of Monroe has hired experienced City Managers with various leadership styles ranging from micromanagers to consensus builders. Regardless of the style, each manager has experienced a difficult time establishing agreement between the Council and the City Manager on where the line is drawn between the development of policy and the implementation of policy.

6. While some Council members are comfortable with entrusting the City Manager with the administration and management of the City, others are reluctant to cede that authority to the City Manager.

7. Some on the Council routinely interface with the City Manager and staff on policy implementation.

8. City staff sees the Council's role as setting policy and the Staff's role as implementing the policy.

9. Some staff feel that the Council tries to manipulate staff in its implementation of policy.

10. Many throughout the City, including staff and some Council members, believe that several on the Council micromanage the City Manager and staff.

11. Some individual Council members have gone directly to the staff or City Manager rather than achieve policy directives through an official vote of the Council.

12. Council member Dottie Nash is often identified as an individual that goes directly to staff with specific requests and uses intimidation tactics to achieve her goals.  At least one staff person received a call from Council member Dottie Nash seeking to know where the individual department head stood on an issue. The staff member reported that Council member Dottie Nash wanted to know whether the individual was with the "four" or with the "three."

13. The Council has allowed and perpetuated an environment where certain department heads bypass the City Manager and go directly to the Council when they want something.

14. Some individuals within the City believe that (redacted) goes directly to  Council member Dottie Nash to achieve her goals and (redacted) goes directly to Council Lynn Keziah to achieve his goals.

15. Several City Managers were afraid to say "No" to Council requests. It is reported that during one former City Manager's tenure, department heads were told, "we do whatever the council wants."

16. Many of the City's staff believe that the Council should "let staff do their jobs."

17. Many in the City credit Council member Dottie Nash as being responsible for the termination of the last three managers.

18. Though Council member Dottie Nash can be difficult, many believe that her intentions are good and her heart is in the right place - but her means are displaced.

19. There is a belief that the number of direct reports to the City Manager should be reduced.

20. There is an intense and unhealthy fear of some Council members among staff and a heightened fear of reprisal for participating in an interview process. Staff feel that certain Council members would make their employment and their lives miserable if they were perceived as disloyal.

21. There is a feeling that certain staff members are either "with us or against us." Even staff members are aware of which employees are "with the 4" or with the "3."

22. There is a perception that a strong manager that establishes a bright line between Council and staff interactions jeopardizes his career with the City.

23. The trust level in the City is very low if not negative. Many employees are fearful of being recorded and many wonder whether rooms within the City Hall are bugged. There is an unhealthy state of paranoia that exists throughout the City Hall.

24. There is a belief that the Council should honor official Council action and such action should not be undercut by individual interactions between one Council member and a staff member or the City Manager.

25. Few Council members understand and respect the Council Manager form of government or the provisions in the City Charter requiring separation of duties between the City Manager and the Council. The interference with the City Manager's responsibility for the implementation of Council policy impacts the organization's efficiency.

26. There is a strong belief that if a staff member does something that a Council member does not like, the staff member would potentially lose their job.

27. Some Council members use staff to gain information from staff to use to their advantage and against the City Manager.

28. Council member Dottie Nash has been identified as being very involved in the day-to-day operations of the City and is perceived as having a very close relationship with the Chief of Police.

29. Because certain staff have relationships with certain Council members, some staff feel immune from the City Manager's authority.

30. The Council is perceived as focusing on serving direct constituent requests rather than the community at large. The Council is seen as lacking a collective vision of the City.

31. There is little to no respect for the Mayor's position on the Council. Often the Mayor is excluded from certain meetings whenever possible.

32. Some individual Council members have influenced personnel decisions with respect to staff.

33. Dottie Nash's husband, Dennis Nash, and son, Darren Nash, are employed with the Monroe Police Department. Her husband's position has now changed and he is now a consultant with the Monroe Police Department and serves as a school resource officer.

34. Police Chief Deborah (sic) Duncan hired Darren Nash. Dennis Nash was with the police department when she was hired.

35. Darren Nash has been promoted to a detective with the Monroe Police Department. This is considered a lateral position by the Police Chief with no change of pay. A salary increase would require the approval of the City Manager.

36. At least two females having a relationship with Darren Nash have gained employment with the City of Monroe.

37. One former girlfriend of Darren Nash was hired and worked for Downtown Monroe. City staff felt that they had little choice in the decision to hire her.

38. Darren Nash's current girlfriend also has gained employment with the City of Monroe. She now works with the Economic Development and Aviation Department in the City.

39. One former City Manager indicated that he was pressured to hire a certain family member or his job would be on the line. The City Manager failed to identify the individual.

40. Some years ago, Council member Lynn Keziah's son was employed with the City. He is no longer employed with the City.

41. Individual Council members occasionally will let Staff know that an individual has applied for a position with his or her department. Often such inquiries do not result in pressure from a Council member to hire the individual.

42. Nepotism exists within the City of Monroe.

43. The pervasiveness of individual Council member involvement in personnel decisions has created belief among some City staff that the City's hiring process has been relinquished to several members of the City Council.

44. Several Council members are involved in trying to influence personnel decisions. Council members have been known to pressure the City Manager not to hire certain individuals. Specifically, Council member Dottie Nash is mentioned as having discouraged the City Manager from hiring an internal candidate to accommodate the hiring of her son's fiancé, the external candidate.

45. All hiring and firing decisions within the City reportedly can be overridden by the City Manager who has to approve all personnel decisions having financial consequences such as promotions and demotions.

46. Several years ago the City adopted an anti-nepotism policy and prohibited any relative from working together in a department. That policy was changed to allow relatives to work in the same department as long as there is no supervisory chain of command.

47. Ashley Duncan, the Police Chief Debra Duncan's daughter currently works for the City of Monroe. This individual, a recent law school graduate, started as an intern. Then, the City placed her in a position as a part-time employee (less than 20 hours per week). Subsequently, her hours were increased to 30 hours a week in order to provide benefits to her. Direct Council involvement is credited with having her position upgraded to receive benefits.

48. Rumors exist throughout the City organization that Dottie Nash and Police Chief Duncan secretly tape record staff without their consent.

49. Dottie Nash has admitted that she secretly tape recorded former City Manager Wayne Herron without his consent.

50. Based on credible and objective evidence, Police Chief Duncan secretly tape recorded former City Manager Wayne Herron without his consent.

51. Monroe Police Department Standard Operating Policies and Procedures prohibit members of the Police Department from tape recording another member of the Police department without his/her knowledge. It does not appear that this policy is violated by the Police Chief's conduct.

52. Monroe Police Department Standard Operating Polices and Procedures prohibit members of the Police Department from tape recording another member of the Police department without his/her knowledge. It does not appear that this policy is violated by the Police Chiefs' (sic) conduct.

53. Monroe Police Department Standard Operating Policies and Procedures prohibit "Unbecoming Conduct" and provide that employees of the Monroe Police Department will not conduct themselves in a manner which would be detrimental the (sic) department's image as the law enforcement agency of the City of Monroe. This policy states that unbecoming conduct will include any act or conduct, whether specifically prohibited or not, which brings the department into disrepute, reflects discredit upon the employee as a member of the department, or which impairs the operation or efficiency of the department or employee. It is also states (sic) that employees will maintain a level of moral conduct in their personal and business affairs which is in keeping with the highest standards of the law enforcement profession.

54. There is no City wide policy addressing the tape recording of Staff with or without consent.

55. Former City Manager Wayne Herron's resignation and severance arrangement was not approved by an official vote of the Council.

 

Conclusions

1. Few Council members understand or respect the Council Manager form of government and several Council members who do, choose to ignore it.

2. Some of the Council's actions have been inconsistent with the City Charter and the Council Manager form of government.

3. The failure of the Council to adhere to the Council Manager form of government has negatively impacted staff morale, heightened the frustration of City Managers and impacted the City's ability to operate in an efficient and effective manner.

4. The failure of Council to adhere to the Council Manager form of government allows staff to avoid the authority of the City Manager through direct communications with Council members.

5. Some Council members, on occasion, have ignored the action of the Council and have utilized staff to achieve their objectives.

6 The City Council is currently divided with a four/three split and each faction has strong and demanding leadership.

7. The Police Chief's compensation issue was not appropriate for Council consideration under the Council Manager form of government.

8. Few City Managers for the City of Monroe have been willing to deliver difficult messages and say no to the City Council out of fear that their jobs would be jeopardized.

9. Council member Dottie Nash has created an environment within the City where there is a strong fear of retaliation and distrust by Staff.

10. Council member Lynn Keziah has a demanding style which has created fear among some staff.

11. There is a general perception that the Council cannot cooperate with each other and lack a clear "big picture vision of the City."

12. Nepotism exists within the City of Monroe and several Council members have encouraged interviews and employment of close friends and/or relatives.

13. Three individual Council members, particularly Dottie Nash, Mayor Bobby Kilgore and Lynn Keziah, have influenced personnel decisions with respect to staff hiring and discipline.

14. Dottie Nash has at least three family members or close associates employed with the city.

15. One other Council member, Lynn Keziah, has had a family member employed with the City.

16. No other current Council member has a family member or close associate employed with the city.

17. One Department Head, Police Chief Duncan, has a family member, Ashley Duncan, employed with the City.

18. Several Council members have influenced personnel decisions related to the employment of Ashley Duncan with the City.

19. The hiring of family members and close associates of Council members impacts the quality of candidates employed with the City.

20. One Council member, Dottie Nash, has secretly tape recorded staff, former City Manager Wayne Herron, without his knowledge or consent on January 31, 2012.

21. Before the tape recording of Wayne Herron was released, Dottie Nash informed certain staff and several council members of its existence.

22. The secret tape recording of former City Manager Wayne Herron is known throughout the City and knowledge of this act has created an environment of distrust, suspicion, fear and paranoia with in the organization.

23. (Redacted) also has secretly tape recorded a member of the City Staff, City Manager Wayne Herron without his knowledge or consent.

24. The secret recording of City Manager Herron by (Redacted) was shared with Council member Dottie Nash and Mayor Bobby Kilgore.

25. Subsequently, Dottie Nash and Mayor Bobby Kilgore shared the contents of the Police Chief's tape recording with Council member Lynn Keziah.

26. The secret tape recording of the former City Manager Wayne Herron by the (Redacted) may bring the Police Department in disrepute or ridicule and may impair the performance of official duties and obligations of employees of the City. Therefore, the conduct may constitute unbecoming conduct of a police officer under the Police Department's Standard Operating Policies and Procedures/

27. The secret tape recording of the former City Manager, Wayne Herron, by the (Redacted) does not violate the prohibition against taping under the Police Department's Standard Operating Police and Procedures since Herron was not a member of the Police Department.

28. Wayne Herron's severance arrangement which involved payment by funds by the City requires an official vote by the full Council.

 

Recommendations

1. The City Council should develop a Code of Conduct governing each Council member's interaction with the next City Manager and Staff. The Code should set out prohibitive interactions between Council members and Staff. The Code should be open to further negotiations with the next City Manager and spell out how instructions to Staff should be communicated. The Council should explore attaching penalties and/or fines to violations of the Code of Conduct. 

2. The Council should establish a clear and written agreement between the City Manager and the Council confirming each party's commitment to the Council Manager form of government and containing fines and penalties for violations by the Council. 

3. The Council should explore establishing a Council Manager relations' committee or appointing a designee that will serve as the liaison between the Manager and the Council and address concerns and/or tensions that may arise between the Council, the staff and the Manager. Council should carefully evaluate the structure of this approach. A committee structure will require compliance with the Open Meetings Law whereas a liaison approach may allow more intimate discussions of issues. 

4. The Council should explore committing to the next City Manager to have an annual facilitated discussion between the City Manager and the full Council to address issues that may exist between the Council, the City Manager and staff. This approach and discussion should occur annually and may coincide with the performance evaluation process. 

5. An anti-nepotism policy should be implemented which clearly outline's the City's rules and expectations regarding the employment of relatives and close associated within the City. It should recognize the opportunity to refer qualified applicants to the HR office. 

6. The City should develop appropriate guidelines for the Council on how to properly respond to inquiries about job opportunities, compensation, opportunities for advancement and other personnel matters within the City. The Council should be trained on these procedures to avoid any improper interference by Council with Staff personnel matters in the future. 

7. The Council should consider implementing a no tape recording policy and whistle blower/retaliation complaint procedure to alleviate concerns of retaliation, reprisal among staff and establish and atmosphere of trust within the City. 

8. The Council should retain and outside firm to conduct a sweep of City Hall for bugs or other surveillance or electronic devices. While it is doubtful that any such devices exist in City Hall, there is a clear and present perception among staff that the facility is not secure and possibly bugged. Many employees in the City have resorted to the use of their personal cell phones and often leave the premises to discuss sensitive matters. A sweep of City facilities would help restore confidence in the security and privacy of City buildings.

9. Council should develop and execute a compact assuring City staff that no actions will be taken in retaliation for participation in this report.

10. The Council should consider conducting regular retreats in order to build camaraderie and address important City issues.

11. In the future, Council's termination decisions regarding the City Manager should require official Council action, and language in the City Manager's employment contracts to the contrary should be revised or deleted.