Question & Answer with Apache Junction City Manager George Hoffman - East Valley Tribune: Queen Creek & San Tan Valley

Question & Answer with Apache Junction City Manager George Hoffman

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Posted: Sunday, July 22, 2007 2:09 pm | Updated: 8:10 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Apache Junction City Manager George Hoffman refused to be interviewed about turmoil in the city’s police department since Chief Glenn Walp took control of the agency in January 2006. Hoffman did agree to answer questions by e-mail. The following is the questions posed to Hoffman, and his answers. Some questions he did not answer, referring them to City Attorney Joel Stern because they may involve litigation.

Q: Chief Walp’s contract with the city is up in December. Is it your intent to renew it? Why or why not?

A: In considering whether to extend an offer of employment to Mr. Walp in December, I will consider progress in a variety of areas; examples include the extent to which the department is characterized by professionalism, integrity, honesty and hard work; the extent to which it is gaining the confidence of the community, the City Council, and the fellow City departments; and the degree to which employees are passionate about being a part of the department. Key will be my perception of the Chief’s role in achieving these things. With six months to go under the current employment agreement, I’ve not yet made the decision of whether to extend an offer of employment in December.

Q: Have the complaints from within the agency, which is now facing two claims that could result in costly lawsuits, caused you any concern that Chief Walp’s actions are the root of divisions and discord? Or do you believe, as he maintains, that the complaints and claims against him are being made by troublemakers within the agency who are trying to undermine him? I would call your attention to his own self evaluation for his annual review, in which he states:

“The only obstacles I encountered were generated from certain selfish and vicious individuals who either were still employed by the department or were former employees, all of whom were disgruntled with my hiring, and had conspired… to see that I left employment with the city within a year.”

A: Prior to the hiring of Mr. Walp, police department employees advised me that, because we did not select the chief candidate of their choice, there would be an effort to see the new chief terminated; I shared this with Mr. Walp before hiring him. With Mr. Walp being 18 months on the job, however, I am finding it increasingly difficult to believe that the personnel issues before the P.D. are solely the result of “troublemakers”. Consequently, I am compelled to assess the relationship between the personnel issues within the department and the leadership for the department.

Q: In regards to the Jenny Lewis claim, she alleges the city has failed to protect her from retaliation by the chief. Is that true? Can you explain why or why not?

A: Litigation – Joel.

Q: Have you and the city done all that you can, and all that is legally appropriate, to protect Lewis from retaliation?

A: Litigation – Joel.

Q: You have not disciplined the chief for his actions in the Lewis case. You did send a “non disciplinary” memo to him ordering that he apologize and undergo training deemed appropriate by the city’s Human Resources department. Is it your belief that no further action is required on this matter concerning the chief?

A: The investigation, analysis, and findings of outside attorneys were based on the information that was available at that time; her current claim appears to offer additional and new allegations that the City was not aware of. I am working with legal counsel to assess this information and take appropriate action.

Q: Has the chief undergone the additional training? If so, what was it and when did it occur?

A: Mr. Walp attended a coaching session with Michael Wade of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting, Inc. on June 27, 2007. The coaching session was on communication issues that can arise when leaders communicate. The session’s topics included a review of message and meta-message oriented communications styles; how leaders can indirectly communicate and how they should be sensitive to their roles and the possible impact of their position; male and female differences in communication; cultural differences in communication; the “Platinum Rule” (treat others as they would like to be treated); discrimination and types of harassment; elements of sexual harassment; areas of special vulnerability such as electronic messages, mentoring relationships, joking, and mixing the personal with the professional; and ground rules on communication.

Q: Do you believe the exodus of roughly a dozen veteran members of the police department is a result of harassment and retaliation by the chief, as alleged in both the Lewis and Officer Cynthia Adams claims?

A: Litigation – Joel.

Q: Has Mr. Walp threatened legal action against the city if his contract is terminated before December? Has Mr. Walp threatened legal action against the city if his contract is not renewed?

A: Mr. Walp advised me that he retained Grant Woods as his legal counsel. The act of retaining an attorney, and my interaction with him, suggest to me that he is willing to utilize his attorney.

Q: Has Mr. Jay Swart threatened legal action against the city if his contract is terminated or not renewed?

A: Mr. Swart advised me that he has previously experienced litigation and it is my sense from our interaction that he would utilize an attorney if he deemed it appropriate.

Q: Do you believe the series of memos solicited by the chief and forwarded to you on or about April 19 were credible? If so, can you explain why the behaviors attributed to Lewis are not reflected in personnel records prior to her filing the complaint against the chief?

A: Litigation – Joel.

Q: Were those memos appropriate? Lewis’ claim alleges they were part of a pattern of retaliation.

A: Litigation – Joel.

Q: The April 19/20 memos are referenced by you in your April 24, 2007, memorandum to Chief Walp. (See the sentence “You have provided additional documentation concerning the complaintant and departmental perceptions of her conduct) What role did these memos play in your decisions regarding Chief Walp and his actions in the Lewis matter?

A: Follow up communication by the Chief influenced me in two respects. First, I came to believe that the Chief had personally helped members of the department who were facing challenges in their personal life. Second, I came to believe that the department has a culture of helping each other when co-workers were facing challenges in their personal life.

Q: Has Chief Walp asked or recommended that Lewis be disciplined or fired?

A: Litigation – Joel.

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