THEIR TURN: Montesano Clerks Speak Out (Part 2)

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Well. Doggone if all’s not well in Visneyland. Apparently some people missed the Neverland show. Like two deputy clerks who were recently laid off by Capt. Vini Samuel and her faithful sidekick, $mee $treeter.

As noted previously, the VinMachine has recently revved into overdrive, painting the lay-offs of two deputy clerks as a budget cutting move. The VinMachine has been spinning so furiously, in fact, that the voices of the two City of Montesano clerks affected, Chelsea Anthony and Ashlee Sund, have been almost entirely drowned out by The Sound and the Fury spin doctors ( you’ll get that if you know Shakespeare. Or Faulkner. If not, never mind.)

That’s about to change. Cuz now it’s their turn. Conservelocity featured Chelsea Anthony’s story yesterday. Today fellow Deputy Clerk Ashlee Sund speaks out.

Sund lives in McCleary and has worked for the city since April of 2007, including a part time stint of “about three years” in the Parks and Recreation Department until that department closed. As a deputy clerk for the city, she handled utility billing, (revenue collection) business and animal licensing, cemetery records, water shut off notices, and served as a clerk for some city council meetings. Sund graduated from Elma High School in 2005.

Sund received her layoff notice verbally from The Vinster and Smee shortly before she and her fiancé were leaving for North Carolina to visit family. (The other clerk, Chelsea Anthony, was noticed about the lay off via tender phone call from The Vinster two days after coming out of major surgery. Go figure.)

Says Sund, “My perspective is, this was a blind side. Not that I didn’t expect something coming with the budget in such a crisis – but not to the extent of losing two clerks in one office.  But I did have concerns about a new boss (Smee Streeter) coming in making $30K more than what the job was posted.”

Sund says she also finds it curious that although the Vinster’s stated reason for her lay off was ‘a general fund budget deficit’, “The Public Works crew didn’t want to abide by Rocky Howard, the PW Director. So they created a new job for PW lead.”

That seems like an odd way to save money, even for a DemoLib.

Continues Sund:

“Everything’s just a Good Old Boys Network over there.  When she first started, Vini preached to us that she only gives people one chance to be honest, then they’re gone. Does that apply to everyone equally?”

Well, we know of at least one corner office occupant that’s exempted herself from her own sermon.

Sund said she got her layoff notice verbally on April 21, 9 days before going on vacation: “They – Vini and Doug – pulled me back into our break room. They told me the budget was going to result in two layoffs and I was one of them.”

Aw. Vini and Doug, tag-team hatchet champs. Sweet.

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Did the police department get wind of or receive notice about the impending lay offs before the two clerks did? “Vini said they had to tell us right away before someone leaked it out.”

Yo ho! Yo ho!

Sund says:

“A police clerk has been in the city four or five years longer than me, so she’s bumping my job based on the union contract. Chelsea and I both said to Vini, ‘Why can’t we bump Jeff McElliott (Public Works)? He’s been here less time than we have. Based on the union contract, we can bump his job.’ She said, ‘No, you can’t. You guys aren’t qualified for that.’” (Reliable sources tell us the contract says they would have a year to qualify. Go figure.)

Let that load of hooey sink in for a minute.

Ready? Okay. Sund notes that the union endorsed Vini and “has been on her side since Day One. They didn’t come up with any resolution at all.”

Us Good ‘Ole Boys Gotta Stick Together!

Sund says she and Anthony meet with Teamsters union reps Jim Pea and Darren O’Neil on May 1 “for about an hour and a half. They basically told us we could bump the parking attendant, but it’s (the position) only part time. (The reps told us) Yes, you can bump McElliott, and if they deny you, you can file a grievance.”

Patronizing much?

Sund brought up “harassment” from The Vinster that “we’ve been enduring since Day One. Whose side are you on?” she asked the union reps. “We pay you to protect us. You’re not going to do anything?”

Sund said she worked in the clerk’s office and when questions came up on procurement items which were overspent on budget line items, like double dipping on the IT person for the fire department and the city, Vini immediately dropped everything to investigate. I mean, she was on that stuff like Take Your Favorite Frivolous Floor Covering To Work Day. After all, the budget is “in crisis.” We Have. To. Save. Money. By laying off two deputy clerks who aren’t wholly paid out of the General Fund.

Naw. Not really. Vini’s response when that sort of over-spending was brought to her attention? “That’s not up to you to decide.”

Such a sweetheart.

Sund says she responded, “I’m like, this is something we’d bring up to address from a management viewpoint and you’re defending this person?”

Has Capt. Vee been nipping at the “free” Wi Fi when no one’s lookin’?

“The interesting part to me was, when we got our (verbal) lay off notices, police are paid 100% out of the General Fund, but we aren’t. So, ‘Why?’”

When the question was put to Capt. Vee, Sund says the mayor snapped that police are about “public safety. And we aren’t willing to sacrifice public safety to save two clerk’s jobs.”  (You may recall that Montesano Police Chief Brett Vance also backed the Vinster’s mayoral bid. See a pattern beginning to emerge here?)

When asked why she thought Vini and Smee laid her and fellow deputy clerk Anthony off, Sund’s response was swift and unequivocal: “Because we backed Mayor Estes.”

That’s not “political” or anything. Is not, is not, is NOT!

Sund added, “The thing that really bothered me was when Mayor Estes won (Estes beat Streeter by a landslide in 2011), Streeter trashed him all over the place. Now he’s running the city?” And:

“Everyone who supported Vini gets all the attention and respect.  The rest of us get none. She has reinstated and supported all employees that were in on her hostile take over.  It’s been such a nightmare. It’s been crazy. Everyone just melts whenever Vini is around and Doug. It’s the most nauseating thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s ridiculous what some people are willing to do to save their jobs.”

Sund says the cleaning lady is “cleaning out our desks and stuff while we’re still on payroll?” Sund’s last day with the city – what’s left of it – is May 31.

We’re told that the City of Montesano has never laid off employees due to lack of money. So:

  • Why punish these two clerks for the new administration’s inability or unwillingness to understand a budget?
  • Smee had been on the job for about a nano-second when this puppy came down. (A la his recommendation?)
  • Why is a CFO handling personnel issues?
  • The previous administration worked hard to save jobs during a recession. Why can’t the current admin do likewise?
  •  If the budget is in such dire straits, why hire a high dollar Smee in the first place?
  • Can you say, “Purge”?

I hear Karma’s a bad girl.

But take heart, friends. A Recall Vini effort is in the works. For info., contact Derek Hamblin at: DHamblin30@gmail.com or RecallVini@gmail.com.

For more, take a gander at: A Closer Look at Montesano’s Mayor. (Not my page, but I like their style!)

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