City of Lavon: A City of Shame

What happens when you continue to toss the flotation device to a bunch of people who are insistent upon drowning? You get the City of Lavon.

Not only are they drowning themselves, they are dragging the City down with them. One must wonder to who's benefit council serve? Themselves or to the citizens of Lavon?

Below is a copy of a formal complaint made to the City of Lavon. It was sent to the Mayor Pro Tem Chris Kane, Councilwoman Deborah Nabors, Councilwoman Melissa Stroop, Councilman David Hawkins, and Councilwoman Jenny Bodwell.

It is clear from the complaint that 4 others were filed against the same employee and that nothing has been done about that employee.

I abbreviated where possible as it is lengthy and I redacted some information that may infringe upon the privacy of the employees. It is clear from this letter that they do not deserve any more trauma or drama than they have already been forced to live with:

... This letter will serve as yet another formal complaint from me regarding the ill treatment of employees by City Secretary Chris Wess as well as a formal complaint against Mayor Chuck Teske's ability to serve effectively as acting City Manager.

I have had the displeasure of being subjected to routine hostile comments from my direct supervisor City Secretary Chris Wess for the duration of my short stay here. This behavior has been ignored by Mayor Chuck Teske and even treated as acceptable.... Where is an employee to go when their direct supervisor is causing a hostile work environment and the Mayor chooses to ignore it? We should feel comfortable going to council but unfortunately, council has been complicit in the ignoring of complaints as well. Council activities directly resulting from the four complaints against Chris Wess that have occurred during my short time here have shown they would rather blame all employees rather than deal with the problem. Council's only response thus far has been to demand training for all employees rather than dealing with the one.... they have been led astray by their Mayor who should never have been presiding over these complaints to begin with. He represents a conflict of interest since it is well known within the community that Mayor Teske and Chris Wess are friends....

Sadly, after my first complaint to you, I have continued to be subjected to hostile comments such as those I reported in a formal complaint during your Executive Session concerning the employment of Chris Wess on July 16th. My written complaint was hand delivered to City Lawyer Andy Messer. Sadly, as a council Member you chose to demand the employees take communications training and insist all the employees move into the one large room together. I fail to understand how punishing all employees for the one was just.

That decision in itself was a fiasco because Mayor Chuck Teske giggled with glee ... moving things to make them look worse and insisting we needed a window A/C unit in order to make the office appearance totally unappealing.... during the move of furniture, everything was placed where Chuck suggested it be placed. Some of his handiwork was removed such as a roll of duct tape on the back of [Employee]'s monitor that held an electric cord... It was completely unprofessional and being executed by someone in which you placed City management duties.

I have also been subjected to comments in front of [PD Employee] when he came to City Hall and joked about National Night Out and not having any volunteers any longer after [Community Center Volunteer] resigned as Volunteer Coordinator because of a conflict with Chris Wess and Mayor Teske. True, it was probably a sore topic with Chris but as [PD Employee] joked about the loss of volunteers, Chris Wess snapped, "Well that happened to me before when there
were two people causing trouble in the City and I was told to get rid of them." She was referring to [City Employee] and myself......

I have had to mitigate childish behavior with the name tags outside our door being moved around, turned upside down, and swapping the 'hierarchy'. I witnessed Chris Wess remove her name tag altogether and put [City Employee] at the top of the hierarchy after [Same 1st City Employee]'s formal complaint against her. It was clear she was being vindictive. ...

In another instance, I asked if Chris had hired someone as her assistant and when she told me who, I stated I guessed that is who she would choose. The woman she chose was on her Facebook friends list so it certainly made sense that she knew the woman. Wess snapped back, "Yeah, just like I knew Chuck would pick you." I was really surprised at this tone because there was nothing in my question or tone to warrant such a response. Again I complained to Mayor Chuck Teske and asked that he remove me from under Chris Wess because it was clear she had no respect for me nor wanted me as her employee. He could have moved me to report to [Chief of Police] or even council but again, he did nothing.

....the next step was to 'promote' me and put [1st City Employee who filed formal complaint against Chris] to report directly under me. How smart is that when [1st City Employee] had filed a formal complaint against Chris and she was now indirectly reporting to her. Great move which puts a liability against the City should Chris cause more hostility toward [1st City Employee who filed formal complaint] and she report it to her lawyer. She told me she has already sought legal counsel on the matter.

In fact, Mayor Chuck Teske has done everything in his power to protect Chris Wess. Interestingly, when [Community Center Volunteer] filed an information request for Chris' employment records, none of the 4 formal complaints ([City Employee], [Grand Heritage Employee], Mine, or [Community Center Volunteer]'s) filed against her were placed in her employee file. Her previous employment file could not be located either. This all seems just a little too convenient. And since I have established that Chuck is protecting Chris and friends with her both inside and outside of the office, why he even presided over the two executive sessions held on her employment is also a mystery....

When I submitted my resignation I sat Chuck down and suggested to him that he had a problem on his hands and he was a large contributing factor. For instance, he went to the City of Lavon Water Supply and complained to the employees there about City of Lavon employee[2nd City Employee], suggesting that he was out sick all the time and he would be fired if he didn't obtain a doctor's note. Again, I fail to understand why a City employee's employment was discussed with anyone outside of City management. In fact, Mayor Teske even called [2nd City Employee]'s mother [Former Employee] who no longer works here to complain that he had no time left this year. This is completely inappropriate.

He justified it to me saying he is 'friends' with [Former Employee] yet [Former Employee] told me before she left that the team of Chris and Chuck is the sole reason she was leaving. Sadly when I asked Chuck why he would speak to someone outside the City about [2nd City Employee]'s employment, he looked me in the eyes and lied outright saying he only went there to pay his water bill. He acted [confused] as to why [2nd City Employee] presented a doctor's note to Chris Wess and not his supervisor [Third City Employee]. Mayor Teske claims he knew nothing about [2nd City Employee] being made to feel he would lose his job. Clearly Mayor Chuck Teske cannot be trusted, so I'm not sure why council would trust him to act as City Manager.

I am also highly concerned at the sexually harassing comments I have witnessed Chris Wess make about [2nd City Employee]'s 'package' and to [3rd City Employee] about 'coming'. Sadly these two men feel they have no recourse for complaint because there have been many sexually explicit texts and voicemails sent by Mayor Teske to [3rd City Employee] over the past couple months. Clearly Mayor finds this lewd behavior acceptable....

....Even so, should a complaint actually make it before council, they punish the whole rather than the part causing problems. The last complaint from [Community Center Volunteer] resulted in all of the employees being required to take Customer Service training. It is clear there are some members sitting on council who also serve to protect Chuck's interest and ultimately Chris Wess, or at least go along to get along with Mayor Chuck Teske's suggestions for

How can council be trusted? When a citizen, [an Employee] from Grand Heritage complains about the bullying of her by Chris Wess, acting as an officer of the City of Lavon, council ignored that complaint and focused rather on who old [Grand Heritage Employee] to file a complaint. This resulted in issues with [3rd City Employee] as he was targeted for sending a text to [Grand Heritage Employee]. Really? ... all you got out of the three complaints that were heard during that July 16th executive session? You only cared about who suggested to [Grand Heritage Employee] that she file a complaint?...

 ...The City of Lavon has a 125 Cafeteria Plan which means all healthcare premiums are taken out pre-tax. When I discovered that every employee who had dependent healthcare or AFLAC
last year had their insurance premiums taken out of their pay after taxes, I brought it to Chris and Chuck's attention. Unfortunately this affected [PD Employee], [PD Employee], [PD Employee], [Employee], and [Former Employee] and I was told not to let them know about it and to just fix it and move on. Yet it will be obvious on their coming W2s when the insurance totals are reported in two different places. Mayor's response was to just make the changes now and not notify any of these employees and if anyone asks to tell them we had a change in insurance plans. In essence, this means that these employees overpaid on their 2012 federal taxes. The City owes them money from the over-payments and they should all re-file their 2012 tax returns. ...opens the City up for even more liability with the IRS among other entities....

It was 3 pages type written single spaced. Honestly, I don't think anything was left to the imagination.

Their response? They held an Executive Session on November 5th where the employees corroborated the claims, yet council took no action.

Now council is holding yet another Executive Session this Tuesday, November 19th. However this time the agenda includes every employee along with Chris Wess in the possible termination or punishment. The agenda plays this all out for you here.

In fact, not only is it on the agenda once for Tuesday, but a second time. Why? Because the current council of derelicts has proven themselves completely incapable of governing and is going to pass the buck to the two new council members about to be sworn in. 

What a disgusting legacy this council is leaving behind them as they refuse to make the only rational decision and that is to terminate the employee who seems incapable of getting along with any of the other employees.

I would sure like to know what these employees did to warrant an executive session which will reconsider their employment situation with the City. Some employees have been there over five years.

It seems to me their only crime is in staying employed with that City as long as they have. Yet they remain, because they like the community, they like the citizens they come into contact with daily, and they like each other. So why can't one person get along with all of them? Why is one person holding the whole city hostage?

Citizens have established long-time friendships with these employees, like the man who makes homemade chocolates and brings them in, and the woman who showed them her snakebite, and the little old man who walks bent at the waist and needs help sometimes. The citizens know and love these employees, but I imagine they would be upset to find out the employees have been the target of abuse and are now being targeted for dismissal. 

There have been 5 formal complaints made against the City Secretary and do you mean to tell me this current sitting council cannot figure this out? They make ethics look like it is merely a suggestion. And they handle all of these things in executive session in hopes that citizens won't know what is really taking place.

If you are a citizen of Lavon, I would highly suggest you show up for the meeting Tuesday, November 19th at 7:00pm and let your voice be heard. The employees that serve you well day in and day out do not deserve to be treated in this manner.