Elk Grove City Manager, Attorney Called 'Unprofessional' By City Employee

Employees says city could 'save millions' Elk Grove News has received a letter addressed to the Elk Grove City Council from an un...

Employees says city could 'save millions'

Elk Grove News has received a letter addressed to the Elk Grove City Council from an unnamed city employee who has alleged city manager Laura Gill and city attorney Susan Cochran of, among other things, unprofessional conduct which has hurt city employee morale. (see letter below)

The employee states that the “arrogance” displayed by Gill and Cochran “have stripped away our morale, any sense of security and our ability to work as a team to produce a sense of pride in working or the City of Elk Grove.”

The employee also questions the pair’s conduct in which Gill and Cochran made “animal sound at each other during the entire course of the meeting.” The employee also accuses Cochran of constantly playing games in her Blackberry computing devise during meetings and playing solitaire and other games on her computer “all day long.”

With regards to recent employee layoffs, the employee said decisions were motivated primarily by subjective determinations on Gill’s part. Specifically it is alleged that Gill laid-off risk management employee Larry Brilliant because the employee believed Gill did not like Brilliant. To make it seem less subjective, the employee alleges Gill also laid-off another risk management employee so as not to give the appearance that Brilliant was specifically targeted.

The employee’s letter also questions several of the city’s business practices and offer suggestions that could “save millions.” The employee says that city contractors Interwest and PMC should be downsized particularly since city employees have been laid-off and have agreed to pay reductions. “It is as if contract staff runs the city and they are more secure in their employment than city staff,” the letter says.

In addition, the employee alleges the city could save money by reducing excessive benefits in area such as travel reimbursement, health benefits for life, elimination of catered lunches and elimination of $650 monthly payments for employees who decline health coverage.

The employee letter specifically targets one consultant, attorney John Hobbs. The letter states that Hobbs “is making an extreme amount of money and was supposed to stay only until Susan Cochran was grounded in her position, yet after two years of Susan being hired, he is still utilized as back-up attorney.”

For her part, Gill responded to a request from EGN seeking her comment on the matter. Gill sent the following:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

I did not personally receive a copy of the anonymous letter, and I haven’t been contacted directly by any staff member about these concerns.

Like many organizations and municipalities, we are in the midst of tough times, and we’ve had to make some difficult decisions that have a very real impact on our staff. Our staff have had to face a three percent pay cut with furlough days, cuts to benefits, and are generally having to do more work with fewer resources. We’ve also had to recently lay off four employees. Anxiety can sometimes be a byproduct of the uncertain economy and a changing workplace. As we have made these tough choices, we understood there can be an adverse impact to morale and more mean-spiritedness in the workplace.

While I don’t have the copy of the letter in front of me, I can tell you generally speaking, both the City Attorney and I have an open door policy with staff. We truly aim to have a happy and productive work environment.

I meet regularly with staff in open forums and encourage a constructive environment. And I truly take feedback to heart. I need to hear from staff so we can be better informed. I encourage City staff (and the public for that matter) to please contact me. Or if staff is not comfortable in contacting me directly, they may talk to their manager or the Human Resources Director. We take feedback very seriously.

Susan Cochran did not respond to EGN’s request for comment.
Council member Steve Detrick told EGN that it is under review but as a matter of policy, the city council does not comment on pending personnel issues.
It is believed that the city council did discuss the matter during the closed session at Wednesday night meeting. The closed meeting agenda was amended subsequent to the originally posting on July 2.

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