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Yelm’s city leadership enters a week of crisis!

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Yelm City Hall
Photo: Thurston Talk

This is a critical week for Yelm’s city government leadership

Key points:

+ Union told Mayor Foster that City Administrator Grayum created a Hostile Work Environment.

+ Grayum accused of several claims of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

+ Union says “not enough was done to address the situation” by Mayor Foster.

+ That Foster did not immediately stand up for the aggrieved employees is deplorable!

+ The well-being of city employees MUST be of primary focus by city leaders beginning now!

+ The city needs to ensure any employee that felt harassed is heard and gets required help!

+ The newly elected mayor in November should consider directing staff to craft an ordinance for council’s approval where harassment and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated by city employees, and prosecutable to the full extent of the law.

+ Foster should have immediately begun an independent investigation, as done with former Finance Director Joe Wolfe. [Ed. note: On June 19, 2019, reported on this blog, “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.”] This claim during Foster’s and Grayum’s tenure needs to be reviewed, too!

+ Foster should have immediately placed Grayum on Administrative Leave, also done with Joe Wolfe.

+ Foster will need to designate an Interim City Administrator, one that can seamlessly manage city operations. Though his plate is filled, Public Services Director Cody Colt is best suited for this duty.

+ Foster should have immediately convened an emergency council session – he has not to-date!

+ The council should take a strong stand to censure Foster for keeping these allegations from them and the public, and for not extricating Grayum immediately from city hall employees, by putting him on leave until the results of an investigation can be ascertained.

+ Foster needs to inform the council and public the extent of the city’s exposure, i.e. how many claims about Grayum and the nature of the accusations.

+ Foster is potentially culpable for doing none of the aforementioned for several weeks, to date.

+ A thorough investigation is also required on what Foster knew and when he knew it. That he allowed Grayum to remain in his job for weeks while the Union raised this issue multiple times, is a travesty! And the council knew nothing of the Union’s requests to Foster until Friday, September 17th. Foster needs to be asked why he kept this from them!

+ Foster owes an immediate explanation to the public, whether a statement on Yelm’s site or Press Release.

+ Foster is likely to be the focus of and point-person sought by the media here this week.

+ Yelm is likely to be in the forefront of Puget Sound and state news very soon.

+ With such a strong letter by the Union, Foster could also questioned by state officials.

+ Foster would be wise to immediately hire a damage control P.R. firm and engage the city attorney, as he is entangled in this by not taking immediate remedial steps to create a safe workplace. This now requires an independent 3rd party to speak on the city’s behalf. Foster’s skill set is also lacking in talking to the media on this subject.

+ I am very sympathetic to those on staff that felt they had to leave city employment due to a “Hostile Work Environment.” This blogger has previously commented on the excessive turnover of major city talent. The public now needs transparent answers as to why!

+ Yelm government is on the threshold of a leadership crisis!

Click here for page one of the Union’s letter to Mayor Foster,

Click here for page two.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2021 at 12:31 am | Permalink

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