Changes forecast for Seattle's street-maintenance division
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has to justify a whopping $515,000 spent to investigate part of the transportation department, including the behavior of one mid-level manager later promoted to director of street maintenance. He is the man who oversaw the city's poor response to the snowstorms last winter.
Seattle Times editorial
FOR Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, it's the snowstorm that won't go away. He has much to do to clean up his transportation department, which royally botched the city response to the snows of December.
First and foremost, Nickels must justify a $515,000 expenditure to investigate a division with morale and alleged employee harassment problems — and the decision thereafter to promote an employee accused of contributing to a hostile work environment.
These are not idle questions. The employee at the center of the storm is Paul Jackson Jr. After thousands of dollars spent investigating a workplace culture where he was a mid-level manager, he was promoted to street-maintenance director. His weak skills as a manager revealed themselves every day Seattle streets remained uncleared.
Most Seattleites know the storms were unusual, but factoring that in, the street-clearing effort was spotty and lame.
Thursday, an executive summary was released from a much larger report about the division. A few days earlier, Jackson asked to be reassigned because he realized he had become a distraction.
Transportation chief Grace Crunican stood by her employee, saying one person's strong manager is another person's abrasive manager, adding she would not have reassigned Jackson if he had not asked.
We've seen this pattern before with Crunican. She plays defense. After the snowstorms last winter, and the troubles clearing the streets, she was quoted saying she doesn't drive a snowplow.
To her credit, Crunican asked for the report on the maintenance division in June 2007 after hearing about discrimination complaints.
Some details of the report are murky. What isn't murky is Crunican wanted a tough guy at street maintenance and didn't worry sufficiently about his management skills.
The mayor announced this week intentions to make changes at the street-maintenance division. The sooner the better. This is a matter of public safety.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.