Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 22 of 22

Thread: Dissension among staff

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,662

    Dissension among staff



    I have a Variance application I'm taking forward. The legal contact for our Board of Adjustment meetings has gotten involed, a little too involed IMHO. Legal Staff has questioned my integrity as well as 4 other Staff's integrity and taken the "side" of the applicant that Staff has shown time and time again to be dishonest with their plans and application.

    The applicant gave a city prosecutor a false document resembling a permit and had the case against them dismissed. They have plans drawn up that do not reflect the amount of space on site. Legal has harassed Staff, implied there was something underhanded going on, and has most recently told the applicant they didn't need the varaince. Legal has also taken in upon themselves to help the applicant, argue/yell with/at Staff in front of the applicant at a site visit, and then told Staff "I know the Code better than you do and that's not a requirement".

    * I needed to add, when Staff pulled up to the house for the site visit Legal walked otu of the house with the applicant.

    Isn't there anything that can be done? I think a line has been crossed, hell, you can't even see the line now... I just don't understand how a legal staff member can take it upon themselves and in how many ways it needs to be proven that Staff is corret before legal believes Staff, backs us up, and spots getting overly involved.
    Last edited by Habanero; 03 Sep 2004 at 3:32 PM.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve
    Posts
    3,387
    Municipal legal staff representing an applicant before staff?

    Sounds like a blatant disregard for the legals staff's job responsibilities.

    If you can do so w/out endangering your own job, go over their heads and report their deriliction of duty to management.

    That's just absolute !@#$sh@t.

  3. #3

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    You have the option of complaining to the State's bar association, but you'll need a friendly attorney to tell you how to pull that off with the best chance of success.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,662


    and this latest excerpt from an email to my supervisor and me (from legal):

    Hab, I know there has been some real animosity between you and the applicant, and I thought it was nice that they apologized to you this morning. I hope you can put your personal feelings aside in this matter and treat them with courtesy and respect and present this case in your usual professional competent manner.


    WTF?!?!? He's crafting a response right now, but this is WAY over the line. I'm not responding to anything from her now. I've tapped out at this point. I know sometimes I may take something personal- but not when it's someone from the outside crying about something.. but a co-worker pulling this crap? That is personal- it is personal when you email my supervisor that.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,348
    I would put together a case against the legal staff showing all of the problems with the applicant and present it to your CM. They've got balls accusing several members of a department of improprieties. Correct me here, but if you are giving a judge false documents, isn't that purgery or contempt of court?

    Questioning integrity? I say "whoever smelt it dealt it" in this case. It sounds like legal has the integrity issues, not the planning staff. Also, we don't allow citizens to directly contact our legal department, mainly because our legal staff is a contracted private firm.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,662
    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    I would put together a case against the legal staff showing all of the problems with the applicant and present it to your CM. They've got balls accusing several members of a department of improprieties. Correct me here, but if you are giving a judge false documents, isn't that purgery or contempt of court?

    Questioning integrity? I say "whoever smelt it dealt it" in this case. It sounds like legal has the integrity issues, not the planning staff. Also, we don't allow citizens to directly contact our legal department, mainly because our legal staff is a contracted private firm.
    Won't that get me into serious hot water?
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Townville
    Posts
    1,047
    Hab let me ask a question--what role does legal usually play in your process? Seems you guys should be on the same page no matter what when presenting to the decision making body.

    This seems odd. Can you get legal and planning with supervisors in the same room before this goes?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,662
    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    Hab let me ask a question--what role does legal usually play in your process? Seems you guys should be on the same page no matter what when presenting to the decision making body.

    This seems odd. Can you get legal and planning with supervisors in the same room before this goes?
    Legal is only supposed to say what we're recommending is legal and give legal advice so what the board decides doesnt' get us sued. I cited 4 different sections of the code and she's saying basically they don't apply (they're asking for a variance in the front yard and she's saying there is nothing stating overhangs can only go 24 inches into the required yards).

    This is the code:

    35-703. Height and area regulations.

    (2) Front yard: Same as AG-1 District

    35-403. Height and area regulations.
    (2)Front yard: The yard requirements shall be determined by the right-of-way width of the street the lot fronts. The following schedule indicates the front yard requirements:
    Approved R/W Width of Abutting Street(s) (feet) Required Front Yard
    (feet)
    50-59 20
    60-79 25
    80-89 30
    Greater than 99 50

    35-1804. Parking schedule.

    (1) Residential:
    Single-family ** 2 spaces/unit

    **2 spaces per unit shall be covered

    35-2205 (6) General.

    The space for any required yard area shall be open and unobstructed except for ordinary projections for windows, belt courses, cornices, eaves and other architectural features provided such features shall not project more than twenty-four (24) inches into the required yard area and further provided in no case shall such projection be closer than three (3) feet to a property line. This provision shall not apply to the major side yard requirement in the SF-7 zoning district.

    I sent her all of this and she's saying no and trying to come up with some way to grant them a variance. I think she's gotten too involved because legal doesn't make staff recommendations. It's gotten to the point in the meetings if the board asks staff something planning related she'll answer for us.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  9. #9
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,643
    Couple of observations: Where every I've been (with the exception of where I am now), the publicly employed lawyers have been the worst I've ever dealt with...no spines whatsoever. Having said that, it has been my experience that the purpose for our on-staff lawyers is to give legal advice and nothing else. It's our (the planning department's) comp plan/ordinances, damn it. We can interpret them just as well as you can.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,981
    I would immediately reply to the e-mail - everyone on the distribution list - damanding an apology not from the applicant, but from the attorney for insinuating that you are being anything less than professional and impartial. Then I would sit down with the Planning Director and explain the situation, and ask that either s/he take it up with thte City Attorney, or get the City Manager to step in.

    It seems clear to me that the attorney is outside of their jurisdiction. They are no longer representing the city or its staff, but trying to act as an advocate for the applicant, which is cartainly not their role. It also seems clear that s/he is not aware of the facts, and not aware of the city's ordinance requirements. They should have their *ss chewed and be told to step aside.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,662
    Well, since I went to lunch and Mr. Hab and I got our marraige license I came back to knowing my supervisor, who was included in on the email, has sent her an email in response defending my professional integrity. Although it wasn't as "in your face" as I would've hoped considering, he did it in a very nice way and said what I had cited is correct and how we've always interpreted the code. It was also made clear the applicants have been dishonest and "we all need to be careful" dealing with them. I was not included in on the email, only given a copy.

    I'd still like an apology although I'm not sure if filing a grievance against her would get me in hot water around my department. I also don't know if knowing my honour was defending in a way by my supervisor if emailing her now would be appropriate.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  12. #12
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,643
    Habbie (if I may be so casual), first ask yourself: is this one worth dying on the sword for? And then remember: we all need thick skins in this profession. Above it all, stay above it all. (Huh, what did he say?)

  13. #13
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Posts
    1,263
    Hmmmm, Gilbert is hiring?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,662
    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    Habbie (if I may be so casual), first ask yourself: is this one worth dying on the sword for? And then remember: we all need thick skins in this profession.
    See, that's the thing.. why bother, this is just a job in the line of plenty of other jobs I'll have in my lifetime. Honestly, why fight when ultimately if I could be a stay at home mom (*gasp* I know) that would be ideal. Life is too short, this job is great experience and provides me with the money I use to do things I really enjoy and the hobbies I have that keep me sane. Do I hate what was said? Yes. Do I think this particular person has been unprofessional at best? Yes. Will the karma bus honk twice and then run her @$$ over? Probably.

    I really appreciate, even if "I never saw the email", that someone defended me. And really, taking me off the case would be ideal at this point too. I don't want to have to deal with this case anymore.. not so close to my wedding. I've got enough stress, I don't need it here as well. I know I did nothing wrong, my supervisor knows I did nothing wrong.

    Quote Originally posted by ludes98
    Hmmmm, Gilbert is hiring?
    Spencer pictures would make my day!
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Va
    Posts
    4,604
    on a high note congrats on the marrige license
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  16. #16
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Someplace between yesterday and tomorrow.
    Posts
    12,757
    We have had a few similar cases with our city lawyer. He is a good guy, but we often stop and wonder who he is working for, because there has been times that he as more or less represented the applicant over the city. I think that the director has spoken to him about these issues due to it has seemed to improve.

    Big recommendation would be CYA… Cover Your A$$. Document everything, send a memo to the appropriate persons voicing concern over recent actions, and go about your job in an ethical way.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,662
    So it calmed down for a few weeks and now it's back, and not only that, another staff member has taken it to catty levels as well. I'm off the case formally although my supervisor asked me to get some info for him on background. So I did. And then instead of an answer that staff member went to the c.a. and asked why I was asking questions if I was off the case and said they thought I'd lose the case if they gave it to me. So the c.a. calls my boss again and hell breaks lose and now I think there may be a meeting tomorrow to deal with the cattiness. Seriously, wtf? Why is it so hard to answer a co-worker when they ask you for information. Why tattle, and really, why tatle to someone who is nowhere near my chain of command. Now I really am re-thinking the presonal grievance just because it's two different people working against me and basically, I feel, keeping tabs and trying to defame my professional character. :-S
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Intervention
    Posts
    4,475
    Just remember nobody likes a tattle tale (or is it tail ).
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,981
    There is definitely some intervention that is needed. You should not sit still for any of this. Their behavior is inappropriate and unprofessional, and they have created an appearance that you were wrong. Taking you "off the case" was a major blunder for the PD. Take it to the next level. File a grievance and force a confrontation.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  20. #20
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    205
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Big recommendation would be CYA… Cover Your A$$. Document everything, send a memo to the appropriate persons voicing concern over recent actions, and go about your job in an ethical way.
    I agree with this 100%, even with the new stuff that has happened. Someone is going to take a fall here, and I'd do everything I could to make sure it's not you. (In the meantime, polishing up that resume may be a good idea...) o I've known govt attorneys who try to be the planner, and they eventually crash and burn although sometimes it takes awhile. The co-worker may be reacting to some of the defense and support that your supervisor is giving for you (?) Hang in there!!!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,662
    I really feel like quitting. Not even so much quitting as really walking the %^&$ out. It's not been implied in a subsequent email there has been a "witch hunt". I've contimplated talking/getting legal help because, unfortunately, I do not believe anything will happen. I find out there have been new inspections done and people are now changing their story and they're trying to make me look like I've gone after these people. I know my supervisor has my back, but this is insane. Unfortunately, I'm tied up in meetings all day but tomorrow I will visit with HR.

    Question, will filing a grievance jepordize my job?
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,981
    Filing a grievance should not affect your job, and may in fact help. You will be drawing attention to the issue, as it seems to be ignored by higher-ups. At this point, the city manager or someone in his/her office should be involved as it is a dispute between two different departments in the organization. It is good that the PD is backing you. Make sure you inform him before filing the grievance, but don't let yourself be talked out of it. Explain that what is being done and said is damaging your character and reputation, and that it needs to stop immediately. I have known these egotistical lawyers before. Somebody needs to slap him down, tell him he is wrong, and take him off the case.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 18
    Last post: 27 Apr 2011, 11:32 AM
  2. Staff reports
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 04 Feb 2009, 3:38 PM
  3. Staff problems
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 03 Apr 2006, 1:36 PM
  4. Staff reports
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 40
    Last post: 18 Feb 2005, 5:31 PM
  5. staff morale
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 8
    Last post: 19 Mar 2004, 2:16 PM