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Palmer says report flawed

Interim Town Administrator Gary Palmer claimed “major issues were ignored or downplayed” in his complaint of retaliatory conduct from former Town Administrator Dan Olson.

In a memo to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, dated March 25, Palmer addressed a response, issued by Mayor Eddy Ford, to his complaint from September 2008.

“[Ford’s] memo appears to be on behalf of the Town (or Board) but I am not clear as to whether this was the determination of the entire Board,” Palmer’s memo stated.

“While I feel the need to respond to certain aspects of the memo and [attorney Pam] Reeves’ report … I certainly look forward to progressing past this painful process,” he added.

Ford’s response, dated March 6, outlined Reeves’ findings on Palmer’s complaint and another by Chelsey Riemann, alleging sexual harassment from Olson.

“Ms. Reeves’ investigation appears to be thorough and well reasoned,” Ford stated in his letter.

“The Town agrees with her findings and conclusions as they relate to your retaliation complaint,” he added.

Reeves generally concluded Olson was unaware of Palmer’s involvement and/or opposition to him in various issues, thus would not have retaliated.

Palmer disagrees. He stated Olson knew of his “opposition and proactive stance against his inappropriate actions” as early as 2006, when he and Leisure Services Director Sue Stuhl first approached Town Attorney Tom Hale and, subsequently, Olson.

Palmer’s complaints largely stem from a poor performance evaluation he believed Olson passed unfairly due to several points of contention between the two, including Riemann’s complaints, alleged pornography found in Olson’s desk and Olson’s receipt of free fiber optic cable from a company to which the Town awarded a contract.

Ford discussed the discovery of pornography at length, concluding: “As reflected in Ms. Reeves’ report, the Town had no policy expressly prohibiting the possession of sexually explicit materials in the Town building.”

However, Palmer alleged an unidentified Town employee resigned “in lieu of termination” for viewing pornography on a Town computer in late 2007.

“We should be asking: why should the Town Administrator be treated differently from any other public employee?” he stated.

Palmer also said he had a “major issue with [Olson’s] unethical involvement with T-D-S.”

Olson allegedly received free fiber optic cable from TDS in a pilot project while he simultaneously was negotiating contracts with multiple cable companies, including TDS, to whom a franchise agreement was eventually awarded.

Olson has stated he received permission to enter the pilot project from Ford and Hale.

“Regardless of any authorization by the Mayor and/or Town Attorney, ethical behavior cannot be ‘waived’ in our public offices,” Palmer stated.

“What steps need to be taken to ensure this never happens again?

“There are several issues that arose from the chain of events over the past year and we now have an opportunity to learn and grow from this experience in a positive direction,” he added.

Palmer also stated he had “initiated an evaluation of what went wrong through the [Human Resources] Manager [Janet Curry] and will be presenting proposed changes in the upcoming work program.”

“I look forward to progressing through these issues,” Palmer said.


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