Employee: Aho created hostile environment

AUBURN — A letter read by a city councilor Tuesday accused City Manager Glenn Aho of creating a hostile work environment.

Councilors rehashed some of their most controversial topics of the past year at an angry meeting. Subjects included the fate of Finance Director Tracy Roy who resigned last month, Aho's performance and his reorganization of the city's department managers.

Councilors suspended their own agenda rules to vote to hire an assistant city manager.

Councilor Ray Berube read a letter from Roy alleging harassment during her time in the city's employ. Ray later refused to release a copy of the letter to the public or to  Aho.

"You can take what you want from the meeting tape and you can print what you want," Berube said.

The letter alleged employees fear for their jobs and will not speak up.

"One employee asked for help because the way they were being harassed and the response given by administration to this individual was that their best bet was to look for another job," Berube read.

The letter claimed Aho brought in a third party to investigate Roy's harassment claims but kept the results of the investigation to himself.

"I fear that employees will continue to work in silence, neglecting to stand up for themselves because they fear that if they do, they too will be retaliated against and will be the next target," Berube read.

Aho confirmed that local lawyer George Isaacson attempted to investigate Roy's harassment claims, but she declined to participate. The report, and Roy's personnel file as a city employee, are considered private and personnel matters.

Councilor Dan Herrick said he also brought a copy of Roy's letter to the meeting.

"If Ray didn't read it, I was going to," Herrick said.

He also refused to make the letter public.

"I have a $20 bill in my pocket," Herrick said. "You want that, too?"

Councilor Belinda Gerry said she had received a copy of the letter but did not bring it to the meeting. She thought all councilors and Aho had been sent copies of the letter, she said.

Berube later made hiring an assistant manager a key point. He said councilors had no business not hiring an assistant because the job is referred to in the City Charter.

He called for allocating at least $60,000 for the position and demanded that the city begin advertising right away.

The job has been vacant since Laurie Smith resigned in June 2010. Police Chief Phil Crowell worked as acting assistant manager until July.

The assistant manager's position was one of the first items cut from the city's budget last spring. Aho had said the position was unnecessary because he had created a new team-based management approach. Team leaders meet with Aho and help similar departments operate and plan.

Councilors adopted the budget without an assistant city manager.

That was a mistake, Berube said.

"(Aho) should be made to send out applications and hire an assistant city manager," Berube said. "That's in the charter and you cannot ignore it."

Councilor Dan Herrick agreed.

"I believe we can find the money to put an assistant city manger back in place because we really need it," Herrick said. "With the respect stuff that's going on in the city now between employees and the city manager, the council and the mayor, back and forth, we should have one."

staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

I responded to

an email that stated that you had responded to my comment specifically. I re-checked this and the SJ email specifically stated that you were responding to my comment.
When I went to the site I saw there were all kinds of comments. I was only alerted to those that were responding to my comment.

If that information was not correct than I do apologize, yet once again, I just received the very same email and it clearly states you are responding to my comment. Which you are. I don't know. Was the SJ email wrong on 1 of the 4 emails? There are 14 comments... I did not get 12 emails, thank god!

 's picture

To clarify, so there are no assumptions:

In these two situations "hostile environment" was created. I could honestly use words; bully and intimidate are the first to come to mind.
So, I was writing to say that there is a pattern. The actions were intentional. Intentional. When one makes a mistake that is one thing, but a pattern of intentional aggressive behavior that is unethical and dishonorable is cause for grave concern.
The people of Auburn should be insisting on better representation. When he does this and it IS intentional, he does in in the name of the people of the city of Auburn. I believe they are better people than that.
THAT is why I wrote.

 's picture

Wow, amazing assumptions!

First, I am and have always been in support of computers for our children in fact, I have stated publicly and consistently that we do not do enough for our children in preparing them for the technology of the future so before one ASSUMES I am a Luddite, WOW, well we know what assuming makes one, Tron...
and Ms.Garey. I am speaking about a story that actually involved me. I was there. It is a horrible example that ethics/honor is what a man does when he thinks when no one is looking. I CAN say that this man engages in behaviors that are a unethical and dishonorable. He outright lies. I have proof of this in writing. The details I will keep to myself. There is another instance I know of and believe me that one I also know is very true.It is not I heard it from someone who heard it from someone, once again I have first person experience with the person involved. My two situations are just that,2. They are however, real. I chose to remain quiet then
It is amazing how you all just made assumptions about a couple sentences I wrote-- computers? where the ??? Tron? SMH....in case you assume, it means shaking my head...

For 12+years I have lobbied Augusta, spoken out nationally, and to anyone who will listen regarding my support for education and my firm belief that in L/A we are not doing enough for our children to prepare them for the technology of the future. Not nearly!! (see...I get going!) I came out in support of the K-Laptop program in Auburn and hope we will see it in Lewiston. Please understand, though - that is just a start! So, how could ANYONE miss that about me???? Like I said, shaking my head...

Lisa Garey's picture

I have always read the

I have always read the comments on here and have "shaken my head" many times when I see what is written. It would probably shock you both to know that I am a special education teacher in a nearby elementary school, working hard every day to prepare children for the "real world." Computers and other technology in my classroom are tools I utilize daily and have never been opposed to, but outright lying about funding sources (grants that never existed) and using budget money against the public's wishes are concerns to me. When the citizens of Auburn voted to pass that budget, the School Board swore the iPads and the budget were two separate issues. Turns out they "couldn't get" the grant, found money that was a surplus from last year's budget, and went ahead with something that was vehemently opposed to Council meetings just as they planned to all along. It will be really cute when they buy another set for the incoming kindergartners in 2012, as most of the public missed the little detail that these devices are traveling with the students throughout their elementary careers.

Ms. Tara, speaking as somebody who knows many city employees and has heard another version of the situation you encountered, I suggest you go public with your story about how Glenn "mistreated" you. Everyone can read what you have alluded to on many occasions, and you won't come out smelling like roses. It must be very interesting around your family table come Thanksgiving time...

Tron, it would be nice to see you participate in intelligent conversation without name-calling for once. Assuming I didn't like a certain situation because I don't agree with technology is called "jumping to conclusions," and intelligent people are better served to do a little fact-finding first.

 's picture

There goes that telephone game again

I am sure there are several versions out there and yet there are only three people who know exactly what happened.

However, the reality that I experienced is backed up by emails and recorded phone messages. AND a couple people involved, one in particular who was pulled into it, was lied to and while she was a person "in charge" had no idea what had actually happened and made huge "assumptions" which she put in writing to me. From what happened I could actually see why she might be angry if what she thought was true. It was not. Those assumptions can be proved wrong by the other documents. And, I have witnesses to the events (involving a representative of the city of Auburn) that began the whole nightmare. It was clear that the supervisor mentioned above was never told those facts.

My feelings about the events is one thing and are subjective. The details that are recorded in documents are undeniable. The timeline of events and who perpetrated them is very clear. Never in any of that situation did I say or do anything dishonest. Yet, I do know that there are some very different versions of that story out there. There always are. That is why I kept all documents and recorded conversations. I learned that painful lesson a long, long time ago. He said she said is not evidence enough.

I am sure you are sincere in your belief that you know the facts,you seem very sincere. Sadly, believe me you do not in this situation. No one was more shocked or disappointed by his and another elected official's actions at that time.
I stated right up front that I did not know the details of Ms. Roy's situation. And I do not know the background of the funding "issues" regarding the laptops. I am not in support of dishonesty.

I believe the people of Auburn deserve better. I also firmly believe that there IS a pattern here that should not be ignored.

Lisa Garey's picture

Dear Councilors who voted in favor of this:

Way to magically find $60k in the budget for an Assistant CM! If they agree with Glenn will you berate them in public, too? Looking forward to seeing the published results of the vote.

 's picture

stories like this are so

stories like this are so common in the everyday workplace. the laws in maine are not enough to protect the employees rights-and of course that leads to people (higher-ups) thinking they can get away with a lot of crap. many of them have anger issues and take and talk to their employees in any manner that they wish. there are so many unreported cases of sexual harassment because people fear they will lose their jobs. i think for them to stand together and confront this issue is great... but it would be even better if a single person could feel comfortable and reassured that they can do it on their own.

Lisa Garey's picture

Maybe those "higher-ups"

Maybe those "higher-ups" can't respond publicly because of personnel laws, and the other side of the story can't be told. Intelligent people don't believe everything they read at face value. She spoke up, but others are afraid to? She quit, but others work in fear? Makes no sense in my book.

 's picture

There are other "stories"

I do not know the specifics of this story, but I do know the specifics of another. Mr. Aho has a pattern of conducting himself without ethics or morals. So, given what I know, I will assume this is true. It fits the pattern. The people of Auburn deserve so much better.

Lisa Garey's picture

Ms. Tara, I'm sure you are

Ms. Tara, I'm sure you are aware they are at least two sides to every story. Was everything said about you as Mayor of Lewiston the truth? Ask the average citizen of Auburn what a City Manager does and he/she will not be able to tell you. They will, however, mistakenly blame the iPad debacle on Glenn, as well as anything else they don't like/understand because he is one of the few people qualified and courageous enough to stand up for this city.

 's picture

Your brother will be upset by these comments,

But I have heard similar "stories" as well.

Lisa Garey's picture

Oh, geez, Joe! I have heard

Oh, geez, Joe! I have heard many stories from the other point of view - maybe I should ask the paper to write an article!? I always thought you were an intelligent enough person not to believe everything you heard. It would be nice to see you use your interest in the city to make positive suggestions about how you would like to see it run instead of being in the pocket of a Councilor who can't piece together a proper English sentence. You are up there every meeting questioning what is going on - how about giving some of the direction the Council is so reluctant to give? You see, if they actually *did* their jobs, people would blame *them* instead of Glenn.

 's picture

what point of view?

I'm not sure what you mean by "other" point of view. Do you mean there are employees harassing Mr Aho? If so, please have him bring those out in the open as well.

I only commented on Ms Tara's comment in which she stated she has clear knowledge of Mr Aho's actions in another case. I simply commented I have heard those same type of comments from other Auburn employees.

As for being in someones pocket, that is a matter of opinion. I have the ability and drive to ask every Auburn employee how they feel about their job and the culture and atmosphere among city employees. I have no difficulty stopping to talk with a guy mowing a lawn or another AUburn employee I see around town. I try to make up my own mind. If I have questions, I ask.

What direction would you like me to give the council? I had a somewhat lengthy debate this past meeting with Councilor Hayes who was attempting to derail the chicken ordinance that was being voted on. I took him to task for his views and have done the same when I feel others are wrong. I took Ray Berube to task for Dunn Street and the Vincent Block Park. I didn't win, but I told them how I felt and that I thought it was screwed up what they did. I have suggested lots of things I thought would improve the city, such as part time fire and police to cut down on overtime, combining the repair facilities of the school and city to save on heating, using city buses to run students to cut costs for our own school bus fleet and many others. So I guess I don't understand your questioning me on giving the council direction. I have been trying for some time now.

Mr Aho has made his own bed. He has created a great deal of trouble by doing everything his way and not through a more politically correct way. For example, his Energov system is almost universally hated. Talk with anyone from Lewiston and they think it is horrible. Many of our own employees feel the same. But Mr Aho insisted it was the best and he pushed it through. He also began sowing the seeds of distrust. Then he hired a couple people with questionable resumes and promoted a few others who are loyal to him. They are not widely seen as the best people for the job, but nonetheless they were promoted and given extra income. Other long time employees were let go or "forced" to resign. Ms Roy's letter was not the first inkling of trouble with the manager's leadership style. There have been many stories and most anyone at the city will gladly tell you their story if they trust you.

Lisa Garey's picture

By "other side" I mean that

By "other side" I mean that there are people who actually respect Glenn and enjoy working for him.

Tuesdays meeting was the first I had missed in a long time, so I will rescind my comment about giving direction as it is a moot point.

Feelings are subjective, and there are also people who are working hard to utilize enerGov to its fullest capacity. Software doesn't work by itself; it takes trained employees who use it properly to be successful. It is my opinion that this is not happening in Lewiston. Have you seen the data in Auburn about the time saving benefits of enerGov (re: sign permits) and the ways it can link to other software within the city?

It is not the business of anyone but those responsible for hiring and promoting to decide who is best suited for a position. Oftentimes more comes into play than what a resume looks like - interactions with coworkers, willingness to grow professionally, leadership qualities, and other personality traits are considered also. I was just hired into my profession with zero years experience - does that mean I should not have gotten the job? Based on that point of view, no one would ever be promoted or enter a new career.

I have heard many of the same stories you refer to, and it is my personal opinion that those people resented being expected to fulfill their job descriptions. Glenn has high expectations, and those who want to thrive do so, all while choosing to dedicate their professions to a public who vocalizes disdain for them.

You are correct that Ms. Roy's story is nothing new, but that does not mean it is true. Those in public office are inevitably the targets of negative emotion and very rarely get positive regard, no matter how deserved.

Many of those who do not accept Glenn's leadership style have no basis for not doing so, as they have a) not given it an opportunity to succeed, and b) do not have the education and experience that he has. Being voted in to a Council seat does not make one automatically qualified to run the city, especially those who run unopposed. Our leaders need to work on having an open mind, accepting the change they demanded, and taking ownership of their decisions/lack thereof.

I do not expect you and I to come to any sort of agreement about this topic. I simply wanted to make you aware that there are citizens in Auburn who appreciate Glenn's hard work and dedication, and who are able to see through the veneer of a disgruntled ex-employee who was passed over for a promotion.

 's picture

Some background might be in order

I have asked repeatedly for information regarding enerGov and how it is working. I have yet to get any so I figured you as an insider. So I did some research. I asked several workers from Auburn who you are and they told me you worked as a temp in the city for a time as Mr Aho's assistant. They further told me in that role you were also his informant and would cause trouble by running to Mr Aho and telling everything that any employee griped about - especially concerning Mr Aho.

Is that indeed true?

Lisa Garey's picture

I worked as a temp in the

I worked as a temp in the city assisting all departments, that much is true. If people got "in trouble" I am not aware of it. Just as you said about Glenn, they "made their own bed." I have a feeling you will believe whatever you want to believe, so there is no need to elaborate, but all workplaces are hotbeds of gossip. All I can say is that I enjoyed my experience working for the city and I learned a great deal about local government while working there.

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