Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rumors, Anonymity and Secrecy

Sometimes closed personnel sessions are good, and sometimes they are not. Such is the case of Tammy Falor, Humboldt County's County Counsel, and the circumstances surrounding her leaving.

Sometimes, when something is wrong with you, and you haven't been to the doctor, you imagine all kinds of diagnoses... is it cancer, will you die... it is the not knowing that causes you to spin and spin.

That is the case here. Out of the lack of information and specifics, rumor has become a rampant tumor, spinning wildly out of control. Many people are talking, though none on the record, and out of that the rumors grow. You've got the Elsebusch's (and others) demanding answers, reporters trying to get the story...

The Grand Jury conducted an investigation of sorts, and issued a statement that is too incomplete to be called findings.

And then you've got the rumors, some of them vicious, some with basis in fact, some with none.

One of those rumors showed up in the comment thread below. Ironically enough the discussion was about the merits (or lack thereof) of anonymous comments. And, in that very thread, you get to see both sides of the anonymity issue.

I considered deleting the first comment, because of the nature of the anonymous rumor. But the fact is, these things are out there, and if they are not brought into the sunlight and examined, the thing continues to fester and ooze, getting uglier as it grows. I have reservations about posting that comment here.

But it is the reason for the second comment, which addresses some of the issues, and asks a good many questions. I think the questions need to be addressed.
***
The first anonymous comment -
anonymous said... 1/29/2008 9:22 PM
the falor incident was going to get ugly, had it gotten out in public. she made unwanted sexual advances on a female staffer and with threats of a harrassment lawsuit against the county,

she pulled out other items that had they been made public would have made things even messier.

it cost the county a whole lot more just to pay her off and make her go away...


And here is the response -
anonymous said...

Rose, Kym stated, “Nasty gossip can ruin someone's reputation and livelihood.” A truer statement could not have been made, especially in the case of “anonymous, 1/29/08 9:22 PM.” That was an outrageous lie anonymous posted, because anyone who had even the briefest acquaintance with Ms. Falor would recognize that honesty was her hallmark and good will toward our community was absolute. Furthermore, whoever “anonymous” is, one might be able to guess from the information revealed in one of the most tightly guarded county secrets in history, that the author of that irresponsible lie is either an “insider” or acquainted with information to which only an insider would have access. In either case, the author was irresponsible and malicious to plant such a rumor on a public blog. Anonymous’ statement follows an equally outrageous and irresponsible Grand Jury report.

Here are some facts:

◼ The County Counsel’s office has between 16 and 18 people in it.

◼ The Assistant County Counsel reviews Grand Jury reports before they are published.

◼ Upward promotion in the County Counsel’s office could occur once Falor either retired, resigned, or was not reinstated once her contract ran out.

◼ The Grand Jury report of 2006-2007 was an incomplete report. It was irresponsible that any Assistant County Counsel allowed an incomplete, personally damaging report to be made public rather than recommending to the Grand Jury that it should wait until all of the evidence were in and the report were complete before releasing it or any “findings” for the public to read.

◼ By its own admission, the Grand Jury interviewed only two of the members of the County Counsel’s office. What about its doing a complete investigation and interviewing every member of the County Counsel’s office? I am certain there would be another conclusion. In an investigation of this importance, one that could (and did) ruin a person’s reputation, wouldn’t any person in Ms. Falor’s position want all witnesses to be interviewed rather than just a few? How is justice served by releasing a half-complete, half-baked report with misleading statements and false conclusions? Where is justice served by giving “part” of an incomplete investigation for the public to puzzle about?

◼ The Grand Jury Report stated, “There was considerable written evidence …to the effect that Ms. Falor’s job performance had been less than satisfactory for several years.” This is patently false. Each year until January, 2007, the County Counsel received laud from the BOS. Through the CA Public Records Act, one could petition the county for accurate information, which I am sure anonymous 9:22 PM did not do.

◼ The settlement in the Falor matter was just that, a settlement, meaning that the original claim would have been much higher had it gone to trial.

◼ Unless the BOS had something to hide, something they did not want out in public, they never would have “settled” and just let the contract run out in five months, saving the county over $200,000 according to the Grand Jury’s own report. THAT “something” is what the Grand Jury needs to explore, but hasn’t. The mere fact that the BOS settled (quickly and very secretly) points to something that needs to be looked into.

There are other questions that need to be considered in the Falor case.

◼ Was Ms. Falor even called before the Grand Jury to answer questions in her own defense? I am not sure of this, but I believe it did not happen. Otherwise, it would have appeared in the Grand Jury’s illegitimate “report.”

◼ Who stood to profit with Falor gone? All those who would be promoted, perhaps? Those who were passed over for promotion when she was hired, perhaps? The person who “approved” an incomplete Grand Jury report to be made public, perhaps?

◼ Could it be that Falor did have something on the BOS that would warrant a loyal, career civil servant to take the almost unthinkable step to sue her employers? Smart people do not make charges without evidence, especially smart attorneys, nor do responsible civic leaders (BOS) acknowledge error by compensating a plaintiff if there is no basis for the compensation, especially if the contract of the plaintiff were merely to expire within five months. That the BOS settled “secretly and with no explanation” lends credence to their having something to hide.

◼ What would motivate “anonymous” to publish such an excoriating lie, one that would strike an emotional nerve in ill-informed readers’ minds? Perhaps the author wanted to continue the character assignation that began with the Grand Jury’s “incomplete” investigation report, a report that was probably approved by the very person who replaced Falor. If this is so, and if anonymous’ information comes from within the office of the County Counsel, then the Grand Jury owes it to the community to investigate the inner workings of the County Counsel’s Office and all who work there.

There are so many questions surrounding the Falor case that causes it to smell like a cover-up and a conspiracy. Who initiated the initial movement to remove Ms. Falor from her office? Was it a member of the BOS? If so, who an why? According to records, Ms. Falor won all the cases she represented for the county but one. Are there special interests involved? Why was the Assistant County Counsel given only a temporary promotion? Does the BOS have another attorney in mind for the job? One it might have more influence over? There are just too many questions involved with this “incomplete report” that the whole Falor issue warrants a genuine investigation by the Grand Jury, or by an outside investigating team if the Grand Jury is too frightened or incompetent to perform its sworn duty, namely to make complete and thorough investigations into citizens’ complaints, not just partial, incomplete, and highly flawed investigations which produce damaging and false conclusions.

***
Bottom line is - this is a public employee, and a closed session decision, and we will never know all the answers, much as we might all like to have them. Good, bad or indifferent, that is the way it is.
***
County counsel resigns post 02/23/2007
County pays Falor $289,000 03/02/2007
$289,000 monster payout leaves many astonished 03/03/2007
Prior to resignation, county sought to terminate Falor 03/11/2007
Violations of Brown Act alleged in Falor settlement 03/13/2007
Fess up or be fired on Falor payout 03/15/2007
County residents deserve transparency about Falor resignation 03/16/2007
What's the whole story behind Falor's resignation? 03/18/2007
'Hiding dirty laundry behind the Brown Act is not good government' 03/23/2007
Suit alleges Brown Act breach 04/21/2007
How about openness by everyone? 04/26/2007
Report: More questions unanswered than answered in county counsel settlement 06/29/2007
Judge clears county on alleged Brown Act violations 07/06/2007
Suit on payout to ex-counsel dismissed 07/06/2007
Real facts of Falor brouhaha (3 sentences) 07/10/2007
Falor settlement handled well 07/11/2007

26 comments:

  1. why should a PUBLIC employee's hearding be closed session? that makes no sense. i for one, would like to know where my tax dollars are going.

    seems like a private company would be allowed to have a closed session, but not the other way around.....strange indeed...

    ReplyDelete
  2. hearing, not hearding....or maybe it should be herding....

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  3. Hi Otherme,

    Public employees are public in that they serve the public sector, but employees rights apply to ALL employees.

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  4. what about taxpayer's rights?

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  5. Hey, teachers are paid with tax dollars, are you saying that any public employee gives up their rights to privacy? Only totally privately employed people have rights to privacy?

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  6. teachers should have privacy???? with my kids??? are you joking?? or are you just a pervert who protects pediphiles?

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  7. You are distorting the issue, otherme.

    The issue is employee rights to privacy under the law being the same for everyone. That has nothing to do with teachers having privacy with regards to your kids.

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  8. what privacy rights? employees only have privacy rights in their personal lives. most courts have favored with businesses when it comes to the question of whether or not monitoring of employees in the workplace is allowed.

    the right to a "closed hearing" is required in the public workplace, but it must be requested by the employee being investigated.

    no, this is a taxpayers issue. should the public know how and where its officials spend our money?...id say yes.......closed hearings have NO benefit other than hiding facts from taxpayers...

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  9. Well other, employee rights are a matter of law, irrespective of whether they work for the private or public sector.

    You can complain all you want about it being a taxpayer related issue (and I wont disagree in the sense that everything in the public sector is tax papayer related), but you are still wrong.

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  10. Basically the law is there to protect people from malicious bosses and co-workers damaging a person's reputation.

    It's why many employers won't or cannot even give a good recommendation, because to give a glowing recommendation to one and not another can be construed as negativity - it's crazy.

    Another one of those cases where a few bad apples spoil it for all the other people.

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  11. Hey Rose, this may be a little off topic but, it looks like Josh "Forked-Tongue" Hedlund will be copping a guilty plea for his crimes in Berkeley. Will local politicians (Gallegos et all) be returning "donations" they've recieved from Hedlund? Will CPR be removing him from their ranks? Will Humboldt properties owned anonymously by Hedlund be revealed?

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  12. All good questions - and even more interesting is what will happen to the villainous Recall-shill Schectman, will Gallegos try to shove that one under the rug?

    And when will Salzman and crew be held accountable for their role in pulling the wool over the eyes of the voters?

    How many more of these are there? And how many of them gave money to Gallegos? And how much? And what do they expect in return?

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  13. What does the County Counsel really do ? When something that requires thinking or work comes up they farm it out to private lawyers and the county foots the bill. County councel seems to be overpaid do nothing lawyers on the public dole.

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  14. Falor gave direction to outside counsel that was hired. Could have been an issue with the pepper spray case and McKee also.

    I heard that it was harassment of an employee that eventually got her out (not sexual harassment though).

    I think the current County Counsel wanted 6 months to decide if she would keep the job or just keep her job in the County Counsel's office. Maybe wanted to determine what working with the BOS would actually be like instead of just filling in once in a while a few years ago. Having to be responsible for managing outside attornies is not just looking over agreements for the county and with that comes risk that the BOS may decide you didn't manage the case properly and then you may be in the Falor boat.

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  15. "harrassment" is not protected under any worker's rights laws........a boss can not be punished for being a "mean" or "uncaring" boss.......sounds like falor had no case, and the ounty wimped out...

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  16. If what I have been told is correct, Falor was not the person's boss.

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  17. 3:14,
    this is what pisses me off about this whole falor thing....why do you have inside information(along with half of humboldt county) about the case, but the general public is kept in the dark.........why is it better to have half truths floating around the community than to have the county officials give a statement that at least gives the TAXPAYERS some comfort that thier money was wasted? thats all im asking for....

    if the county has been so negligent as to allow harrasment of their workers, i would like an explanation......

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  18. my last post should have read "money wasnt wasted"

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  19. I don't have any inside information.

    I have heard alot of rumors, just like everyone else. Seems to me some of them made the papers. I hadn't been tracking this one, didn't save any of the articles, it wasn't really on my radar except to observe David Elsebusch's actions.

    I pulled up a bunch of articles off the TS and ER sites the other night and linked to them. I generally do that so that people from out of the area who are trying to understand what is going on here can get some answers, and because someday, maybe, someone looking into things may find pieces to the puzzle. I haven't saved those articles on the articles side of this blog, but maybe I should. It is, after all, part of the picture of what is going on here politically in this point in time.

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  20. Falor? This is what I heard:

    What happened is totally a Neely/Woolley/Berg/Stewart fiasco. It is also one of the reasons that Neely won’t give up on remaining on the personnel subcommittee. She gets to control things that way. Seems like Kim Kerr and Falor were the voices of reason. Both are no longer there. Why?

    Well Kerr left for a more stable and less backstabbing environment. You can only be a good Risk Manager if who you are working for actually listens to you and follows your advice.

    As for Falor, looks like Berg was pretty pissed about 2 years ago, when Falor wrote a thank you letter to the governator. This set off a tirade by Berg who sent Connie Stewart to slap Woolley into submission and demand that Falor be fired for seemingly making Berg look irrelevant. Woolley then staged a coup using and promising Chaitin and Ruth all kinds of things including a promotion for Chaitin. The two penned a letter against Falor and basically forced some in the CC's office to sign it. Some refused. Others signed. Those that refused were threatened.

    Chaitin blew her cork after the closed session in which Faust was appointed. Word is that she was actually packing her office up to move it to Falor’s old one when the news came out. Word also is that when she found out about Faust, you could hear her screaming in her office from outside in the corridor. (Pretty funny if you ask me.) But, Faust was needed to rubberstamp what Neely wanted rubberstamped. This prompted her second in command Ruth to fetch the unsigned agreement between the Board and Falor and make it public even though it wasn’t signed yet. I believe that there was considerable opposition to Chaitin which is why she has been given a 6 month trial run. And...Faust is still there part time carrying out Neely's wishes.

    Falor’s resignation was simply given because her contract was coming up. There was never any investigation of anything done at all by anyone. But what’s with the payment to Falor? Well, it looks like she had some pretty valid claims against what Neely and Woolley (as well as Chaitin and Ruth) had done to stage this coup. And Neely and Woolley paid the claim to keep it from the public. They had to. It would have exposed them for what they really are. This had nothing to do with any type of harassment - in fact that is simply being floated by their political allies to keep the cover up. And the idea that it was because of the Tooby ranch is hysterical. The board is still actively pursuing that case and is appealing it.

    Its time for the public to demand answers. The coup leaders simply want the public to forget it so it all goes away. Don’t let them get away with this...demand answers.

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  21. Yeah, I've heard some of that - the thing is, I think the Elsebusch's demanded answers, I think he sued, looking back at the articles - i didn't see it but I thought the suit got tossed...

    Guess I should look back. Like I said, this one wasn't something I had focused on.

    Interesting though, if the higher ups really are involved. To what end, you'd have to ask.

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  22. This is one time I would like to know who anonymous is that posted 2-4-08, 9:42 a.m. Sounds credible and like someone on the inside. I have my guesses though.

    I have seen Faust in the hallway and wondered why he was still there as he was hired as the Interim County Counsel after the Falor fiasco. I guess they just never get rid of anyone once hired.

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  23. Sure got quiet here. Looks like somebody struck a nerve.

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  24. And Neely and Woolley paid the claim to keep it from the public. They had to. It would have exposed them for what they really are.

    please elaborate......

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  25. Shouldn't both of them be elaborating theotherme? The public wants to know.

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  26. "It would have exposed them for what they really are."

    what are they?

    ReplyDelete

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