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Letter: Gomm responds to letter

Thank you to the writer for his letter Monday.

I did request the meeting to be open. I had hoped to be able to have a discussion with the Willmar Municipal Commission on the investigation and the actions that were taken against me.

I was told that I could have up to 30 minutes to speak. However, I was also told that I would not be able to directly engage the commission members, that I would not be allowed to have any witnesses speak for me, and that I would not be allowed to rebut any comments made at this meeting. These were a few of the restrictions made to me on the meeting.

I personally was not sure what I could say more than my prepared statement with such guidelines and chose to listen to my legal counsel's advice not to comment further. I don't think anything I said then would have made a difference in the outcome anyway.

One of the supporting documents provided to the commission that day was from a utilities supervisor with whom, as you said, I was not able to work out our differences on hiring issues. This is what this employee reported in his interview with the investigator, Dyan Ebert: "In 2009, the newly elected Commissioner, (redacted), asked (redacted) to document Gomm's work attendance. (Redacted) tracked Gomm's attendance for a couple of weeks before (redacted) told him he had reconsidered his request. (Redacted) continued to record Gomm's work attendance for a couple more weeks but eventually stopped."

Having discovered that in 2009 a commissioner was instructing my senior staff to secretly keep track of my work attendance at the same time the commission is officially instructing me to be out in the community more -- just blew me away.

The commissioner never addressed my work schedule with me directly and there was no hint of these concerns mentioned in my 2009, 2010, or 2011 reviews.

One of the problems that this kind of behavior creates is tension between staff and management. The commission was sending strong messages that it was OK to undermine and disobey my authority. No department can be effectively managed when their authority is constantly being undermined by those who gave them the authority.

This is just one example of what was going on that in my opinion created a hostile working environment and made it very difficult to successfully manage the utility.

Bruce Gomm