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NVN investigates Yelm Finance Director’s Wolfe’s resignation –
Mayor Foster’s leadership is absent amid allegations of the city’s “toxic” workplace!

  • Editor’s note: Yelm Blog readers have been kept informed on the unexplained administrative leave and subsequent resignation of recently heralded City of Yelm Finance Director Joe Wolfe.
  • I applaud the investigative work of the Eric Rosane with his Nisqually Valley News report filed Tuesday afternoon, where we learned of an accusation of a “toxic” workplace in city hall.
  • A city manager, Dana Spivey, filed a formal complaint on April 2, 2019, against Finance Director Joe Wolfe,
  • Wolfe “said he was placed on administrative leave on Monday, April 8,” and resigned the week of June 3rd.
  • Click here for the “Executive Summary Report of Investigation Allegations Against Joe Wolfe City of Yelm.”
  • Mayor Foster does not have President Truman’s desk plate in his DNA, “The Buck Stops Here,” as Foster’s leadership was non-existence while his city staff created an alleged “toxic” workplace!
  • Foster said when running for office that his top priority was to “Take care of the employees who take care of Yelm,” in the NVN, October 19, 2017. Why did he not do that here?
  • This is a scathing story and “stomach punch” to Yelm’s city management, or lack thereof.
  • Mayor Foster would have known about all of this, yet deferred to Mr. Grayum in council sessions. His leadership has been absent.
  • City Administrator Grayum has been the acting Finance Director and Public Works Director while Chad Bedlington is on family leave,
  • The Finance Director opening is posted internally within the city, then publicly, yet 2+ weeks after Wolfe’s resignation, the Finance Director opening has not been posted publicly. WHY NOT? The council should have been presented with an internal applicant on June 11th and was not.
  • When WILL the city council do their job and finally censure the city’s Executive branch’s poor management and not informing them in a timely manner: the mayor and city administrator?
  • The following was the NVN headline:

“Former Yelm Finance Director Was Investigated for Intimidating Behavior”

“Joe Wolfe Agreed With City to Resign Despite Inconclusive Findings”

Key points from Eric Rosane’s report:

  • “Allegations made against Wolfe span the last seven months, according to an executive summary of the investigation. While complaints came predominantly from the city administrator and customer service staff [Mgr. Dana Spivey].” [Editor’s note: the report spans 7 months, yet key accuser Spivey’s complaint was only filed April 2, 2019? hmmm]
  • “Finance department employees reportedly interpreted Wolfe’s actions differently, and have said that while he may become frustrated at times, ‘his behavior, even at those times, remains within the bounds of acceptable workplace behavior.’” [Editor’s note: Remember, Finance Dept. staff are folks who have worked with him daily for almost 2 years, too! Not Spivey.]
  • “Investigators interviewed 12 employees, including city customer service staff, finance department staff, a council member, a department head, Grayum and Wolfe.” [Editor’s note: Who WAS the councilor and other department head?]
  • In an interview with the Nisqually Valley News, Wolfe said he had been looking for a new job before the investigation began and that the city harbors an unprofessional environment, which he described as “toxic.” It wasn’t a good fit for Wolfe, he said.”
  • Allegations against Wolfe seemed to begin during a reorganization effort of the customer service and finance department late last year. According to the investigation, the two departments never agreed on the duties of the new customer service department, which had just absorbed two positions from the finance department, or the role of its newly promoted manager, Dana Spivey. Conflicts and disagreements ensued.” [Editor’s note: Why was the mayor’s management totally absent? After all, he said he was Yelm’s full-time mayor!]
  • On April 2, Spivey lodged a formal complaint against Wolfe and a subsequent third-party investigation was launched.” Read more Printed here with permission of NVN Editor Eric Schwartz.

Key points missing from the NVN story about Joe Wolfe’s value to the City of Yelm:

  • On March 13, 2019, the City of Yelm issued a public release heralding Finance Director Wolfe in this headline:

“The City of Yelm is proud to announce that City Finance Director, Joe Wolfe has been granted the designation of Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) by the Association of Government Accounts (AGA).” Read more


  • Why was major accuser Spivey’s complaint filed just 6 days prior to Wolfe being placed on administrative leave, while 7 preceding months of investigation were not conclusive about the allegations against Wolfe?
  • Why were Spivey & Grayum the only complainants who’s names were listed in the report?
  • “Allegations made against Wolfe span the last seven months,” yet “complaints came predominantly from the city administrator and customer service staff,” and “the new customer service department was led by newly promoted manager, Dana Spivey.” [Editor’s note: The investigation report mentioned no other complaints by name other than from City Administrator Grayum, and Dana Spivey.]
  • Spivey’s formal complaint was only filed on April 2, 2019, and “Wolfe said he was placed on administrative leave on Monday, April 8.”
  • WHERE WAS MAYOR FOSTER DURING THIS SERIOUS EMPLOYEE ISSUE? “According to the investigation, the two departments never agreed on the duties of the new customer service department.” …”Conflicts and disagreements ensued.”
  • Mayor Foster’s leadership was absent, yet he had to have known he had no Finance Director working for 2 months, all-the-while writing a letter of recommendation to Mr. Wolfe for his next job!
  • Yelm lost a valuable Department Head, needed at this crucial time with budget concerns escalating, as I previously wrote!
  • Mayor Foster’s words and actions (or lack of actions) do not match, when he said his top priority was to “Take care of the employees who take care of Yelm. He was an absent leader!

Posted by Steve on June 19, 2019 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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