More local political news — my employer, Multnomah County, is still having problems. Intimidating managers seem to be the norm. Dr. Peter Davidson, the county’s highest-paid employee ($157,000 annually) was trying to keep his racial slurs out of the press. Unsucessfully. The Oregonian first reported last Thursday that an unnamed county employee was reporting that Dr. Davidson had been pressuring her to keep quiet.
The employee used the “I” word — intimdation.
She was named in a survey that the county performed earlier this year, where she claimed that Dr. Davidson referred to African-Americas as “mud people.” The report linked above showed that the good doctor was put on administrative leave when the employee made the complaint about intimidation, which seems like a good move — put him on leave, then launch an investigation.
But… why wasn’t that done back in 2002, when the first reports of his racial slurs were made? Instead, Chair Linn merely shuffled the org chart, and kept Davidson on as an employee of the county. A tactic, I can report as a county employee, that was also used regularly when complaints surfaced about other managers.
Which is apparently what they’re going to do about Jann Brown. Even though, technically speaking, Jann Brown doesn’t have any staff under her… she sent out a meeting request for a “staff meeting”. She’s even bringing in breakfast! Joy. Rather than substantially address the hostile environment that Ms. Brown created, county management is going to pretend nothing happened. They’ll spend taxpayer money to send these awful managers to “sensitivity training”, but meanwhile the staff that has to work with her sees that favoritism and intimidation and suppression of complaints results in promotions and continued employment. Which further sends the message to other managers that, hey, these kinds of poor management are A-OK, too, perpetuating the culture of fear at the county.
The six-figure award that a jury gave to Lea Lakeside-Scott in an amazingly-fast decision (the jury in that case deliberated for only 2 1/2 hours, which normally signals that the defense has won the case but should be seen by county management as a strong rebuke, above and beyond the punitive damages) is only seen by the higher-ups as the cost of doing business. They want to push to reduce the award, then pay Ms. Lakeside-Scott off and make it go away.
I don’t think this issue is going away, however.
As Mary Botkin, a representative for AFSCME (the union that many state and county employees belong to) said in another local case of racial discrimination (this one at the Oregon Department of Agriculture), “We wouldn’t tolerate this at Nike. Why do we tolerate it in state government?”