Unhappy with report, Providence council takes personnel study into own hands

PROVIDENCE – Four council members voted unanimously Wednesday night to appoint a committee to evaluate a recently conducted personnel study. The study was carried out by Platinum HR CEO Todd Anderson, who was hired to investigate and report possible “major problems” among city employees after several resignations in a short amount of time. The vote, made by council members John Drew, John Russell, Ralph Call and Jeff Baldwin, came after dissatisfaction with the personnel study report and feeling the truth wasn’t found.

Kristina Eck wished to make a public statement during the meeting but was denied because Mayor Don Calderwood said it was a special meeting called by the council. Eck instead distributed a typed copy of what she planned to say. Her husband, Randy Eck, who also typed a statement, resigned as the city’s public works director in September. Both statements claimed that for years several city personnel have participated in inappropriate sexual relations in city offices and in city vehicles, an issue never mentioned in Anderson’s personnel reports.

Drew told Anderson during the meeting the council felt his report was “really shallow.”

“(It) was more of a feel-good three monkeys report, see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil kind of thing,” he said. “You suggested that we just tweak things a little bit and that we just don’t have any problems, but we ought to tweak things a little bit. We have seen, based on what we can observe ourselves and what get in feedback from citizens, that we have major problems, major management problems in the city.”

Drew said the newly-approved committee’s purpose is to try and find out exactly what the problems are and make recommendations to the council on how they might be solved.

In his statement, Randy Eck admitted to participating in inappropriate relationships with other city employees and lying about it. He wrote that he feels horrible for what he did and will live with the consequences for the rest of his life. He also explained the reason for his resignation.

“Simply stated, I resigned before Mayor Calderwood could have the satisfaction of terminating me,” he wrote. “Prior to my resignation I came forward and admitted to having inappropriate relationships with fellow employees. I was asked about an inappropriate relationship a few months prior to my resignation and I said ‘NO’, I lied, I was wrong to do so. I was told that it was this lie that was the root cause of Mayor Calederwood wanting to terminate me.”

He also complained of nepotism within the city administration.

“How would you as the Public Works Director manage and if necessary discipline an employee who works for you when your immediate supervisor is this employee’s mother? It doesn’t work, it didn’t work for me for the past 10 years and it will not work for the next person who is placed in the same situation,” he wrote.

The 4-0 vote allows the three-person committee consisting of council members Drew, Russell and Call to interview city personnel who weren’t evaluated during the study and to help provide continuity to the council as three new members join it next month.

“I think its responsible and reasonable on our part to help transition to the new council with this, and I think it is a wise idea,” Russell said. “It is important to talk about it as a committee to make recommendations.”

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