Personnel matters: Dismissal of librarian leads to management review

February, 2016 Posted in News

By Mary Owen

The termination of the Stayton Library director last month has catapulted into an investigation into the management styles of several city managers.

The decision to pursue looking into recent allegations of wrong-doing that started with the dismissal of Katinka Bryk was authorized by the Stayton City Council at its Jan. 19 meeting. Bryk announced at the meeting that she is appealing her termination by City Administrator Keith Campbell.

Also speaking at the meeting was Rèse Bourdeau, who resigned her position on the Stayton Planning Commission to be able to speak publicly about the issue.

“A memo was issued at the end of October notifying staff, advisory boards and commissions that basically they were not allowed to converse, discuss or take a position on city policy,” Bourdeau told the council.

“It is not currently a wonderful life for our community,” she added. “In recent weeks, we’ve had a city employee who was put on unpaid administrative leave, removed from their place of employment during business hours in full view of patrons, staff and by a Stayton police officer. This has never happened in the history of Stayton.”

Bourdeau told the council that an atmosphere of intimidation was permeating throughout the city.

“No one should fear asking questions, seeking facts and talking to their business neighbors,” she said.

Bourdeau encouraged the council to initiate a completely independent review of recent staffing decisions, administrative actions and the current state of staff morale.

“This should be conducted by an accredited human resource professional who has not been involved to this point,” she said. “It should include city employees, current and past, for the last two years and business, board and community leaders. If you do less than this, you cheat Stayton.”

At the meeting, the city council approved the hiring of Portland law firm Bullard Law to investigate the matter.

In answer to a questions raised by Councilor Priscilla Glidewell about the process, City Attorney David Rhoten said status reports will be given to council members throughout the investigation.

“The reports won’t include much specificity, but will say where we are in the process,” Rhoten said.

Councilor Brian Quigley suggested the city look into hiring a human resources person and wants staff to consider covering the position in the upcoming budget.

“There are too many staff issues coming up on a daily basis for us not to have someone to address them,” he said.

Glidewell agreed, adding that Campbell asking for Bryk’s resignation and the other management issues “seemed too big a thing to happen without council having knowledge of it.”

Because of her pending appeal, Bryk was unable to comment. However, the Stayton Library Board’s letter to the city council in support of Bryk said she had “helped members greatly to become a better board.”

In the letter, the board cited Bryk’s help with revising the library’s mission statement, updating bylaws and policies to be more consistent with a modern library, educating staff on library issues, and treating staff members with professionalism, encouraging them to be advocates for the library.

“We appreciate the time and effort Katinka took on behalf of the library board. We are thankful for the way she has become involved in our community and have seen the many ways she has worked to make the library a positive place for Stayton. We did not see issues that warranted her dismissal.”

Signing the letter were board members Sara Trott, Laurie Steele, Margaret Able, Susan Brandt (chair), and Asia Strawn.

Campbell told Our Town that since the issue is a personnel matter, he is not allowed to say or discuss details beyond what has already been made public.

An executive session has been scheduled to immediately follow the adjournment of the Feb. 1 city council meeting at the Stayton Community Center. The purpose of the session is to consult with legal counsel regarding current litigation or litigation likely to be filed.

Executive sessions are closed to the public. For further information, call Deputy City Recorder Alissa Angelo at 503-769-3425.

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