Opinion: Augustine-Berman Report has Serious Issues
Updated: Jul 4, 2020
Multiple times over the past month, I've been told that "there are no formal complaints." So I must ask exactly what was Mr. Berman investigating? For the record, Mr. Berman told me there were no formal complaints during our in person meeting on 6/6/20. Phil Stephan told me the same when we spoke on the phone on 6/5/20 (in fact, he yelled it at me). Pam Eddy confirmed that she believed there were no complaints during our call on 6/4/20. However, Bryan Younge was very clear with me that he had serious complaints from the staff (past and present).
So, the first real question is "what was Mr. Berman investigating?" Well, if you read the report, it appears he selected a small sub-section of the allegations from the staff, most dealing with financial improprieties and completely ignoring the staff complaints of the actual working conditions within Village Hall.
Next, he keeps calling his hand selected and convoluted questions "Interrogatories" I must admit that I had literally never heard that word before this, so I ran to my trusty dictionary. What I learned is that it is a legal term in which a lawyer can compel answer. This is interesting because a) I don't believe Mr. Berman is an attorney and b) he was VERY clear that these questions were optional. Let's leave this as he is trying to use a $3 word when a 50 cent word would do.
Then, let's look at the questions themselves. They focus on the RedTail Deck, the paving of Muirfield, destruction of documents, budget representations....basically, nothing of the complaints around the working conditions in Village Hall.
Then, let's look at the people who were contacted and asked to comply. Per the report, 7 people were listed, Bryan Younge who brought the issues to the board after learning of them; Three current employees, one prior employee & resident, and the subjects of the complaints. Does this seem odd given that the number of people who have either complained or can confirm a complaint is almost 30.
Finally -- some of the data is outright wrong. The data regarding the number of employees who have left the village since CAO Smith was hired is glaringly missing the previous employee and resident who was sent a selection of questions, additionally at least 3 others either weren't listed or were mis-labeled as retired vs. left. Really? You'd think he'd double check that the complainant would be listed.
I'm sure the majority of the board does wish that this matter is closed and maybe we can stop talking about the fiasco of the building of RedTail Deck -- I'm willing to concede that one as money spent and it's over -- but the matter over harassment and treatment of village staff is FAR from closed.