Former H.R. director wants to set record straight
To the Editor:
To Employees (past and present) of the town of Milford:
I purposely waited to write this letter to explain my unanticipated departure from the Town of Milford until a new human resources director was hired as I did not want this letter to be construed as an attempt to get my job back as I would never condescend to that level.
I am sure some of you have wondered why I left so abruptly that Wednesday, March 11. Had I absconded with town funds? Quite the contrary. I am proud to say that, in my tenure as H.R. director, I saved the town of Milford several hundreds of thousands of dollars. First, in being able to perform all of my duties as H.R. director in 24/hrs/wk saving the town’s taxpayers significant money not only in my salary (which was reduced when I went from F/T to P/T) but also in the elimination of all town benefits allotted to a full-time person; i.e.: health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, short-term disability insurance and in contributions to the New Hampshire Retirement System.
Additionally, due to recommendations I had made concerning increases in deductibles in the town’s health insurance plans, several hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings were realized. I was also going to bring in another suggestion to the Board of Selectmen concerning health insurance which would have resulted in possibly another $100,000-plus in tax dollar savings but this will not be done. Also in cost-cutting measures I designed and printed my own business cards, envelopes, and letterhead (which became the "official" town letterhead).
Additionally, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Teamsters and the town of Milford was set to expire March 31, 2015. Realizing that we would not have a chief negotiator for the town due to Guy Scaife’s resignation, I made recommendations to the Board of Selectmen on offers we could make to the Teamsters to attempt to gain a one-year extension to the CBA. The Board approved these recommendations which were presented to – and approved by – the Teamsters resulting in the one-year extension. It is safe to say that I was the only one at the town with 12 years of negotiating experience with the two unions. The Teamsters’ CBA will need to be negotiated shortly and there will be no one in the town who knows what has been discussed, negotiated, accepted, or turned down in the past.
So, what led to my sudden departure? First let me state unequivocally that – contrary to what was sent out – I neither "resigned" nor "retired." During the search for a new Town Administrator, I was tasked with sorting through all of the resumes/applications and selecting what I considered to be the top 30 candidates. Two piles of resumes were made – "my" top 30 and the remaining 50 or so applications. Each search committee member was to go through the resumes and select their top 10 (whether they looked at all 80 applications or only "my" top 30 I can’t say). I was also asked to select my top 10 and meet with the committee – which I did. When I presented my top 10 – one of the members commented that I did not have a female on my list. I noted that I did not because I felt the candidates I had selected were the best qualified and, besides, "I" preferred not to work for a female. Now, in hindsight, this was probably not the wisest thing an H.R. director could have said but I never told them not to consider a female or not to hire a female, I only said that "I" preferred not to work for a female – same way as I feel about my PCP who is male. The selection process continued, I was asked to provide all of the interview questions for both rounds of interviews, and ultimately, Mark Bender was selected as the new Town Administrator.
On March 10 (Voting Day) – I was asked to meet with Mr. Bender in his office and he informed me that the Board of Selectmen was "very upset" about my comment (note that it took them 4 months – from November to March – to get this upset and, during that time, not one of them had the decency or common courtesy to speak with me) and, after 24.5 years of exceptional, unblemished service to the town of Milford, they considered me to be a "liability" for discriminating. Mr. Bender stated that he "would not escort me out the door" but, in consideration of my long service to the town, the Board would allow me to leave with "grace and dignity." They wanted me to "retire" by the end of the month if I continued working as I always had. I would submit that, if I was considered such a "liability" to the town for discrimination then some members of the Board who served as the interview committee may also be guilty of the same offense and may also be considered a "liability" to the town and that, perhaps, someone should research just how many females were considered by the committee for interview and/or how many females were, in fact, interviewed for the Town Administrator position.
Additionally, Mr. Bender noted that one of the Board members had stated that "I" had told one of the finalists that someone from the Board of Selectmen had applied for the Town Administrator position (throughout the entire search process I had never let it be known that anyone from the Board had applied and, in fact, I had heard this from outside sources which, as H.R. Director, I never confirmed). I responded that I "most certainly had not done this" and that there was proof of that in my emails. This candidate had sent me an email the day prior to the final interviews stating that he was withdrawing from consideration for the foregoing reason. I attempted to convince him to come for the final interview as he was one of the final five candidates but without success. He would not say how he had found this out as this gentleman was from Vermont but he would not change his mind about coming for a final interview. (Again, there is proof of all of this on back-up tapes from my computer.) Now I ask you – Why would I tell one candidate whom I had never even seen or met and not tell all the other four candidates?
Mr. Bender can attest that I never told him and so could the other candidates. So, whoever claimed that I had said this was either misinformed or untruthful.
And, so, on March 11, with my husband’s concurrence, I went in to my office one last time, packed up 24.5 years of belongings, and left the Milford Town Hall. That was my way of leaving with "grace and dignity." What was my reward, my "thank you" for 24.5 years of loyal, dedicated service to the Town of Milford and its employees; for the hundreds of thousands of dollars I saved the Milford taxpayers; for the hundreds of thousands of miles I placed on my cars in traveling from Londonderry to Milford; etc.? – it was to be told that I was considered a "liability."
One has to wonder why it took those Selectmen four months to come to this conclusion? What was the catalyst behind this? My husband believes it coincides with the release of the 2014 Town Report and the article I had written about the departure of Guy Scaife. I have a different theory. Why did not one of the Board members ever speak to me about this during those four months if they were "so upset?"
In any event – I wish to say to employees both past and present that it was my great pleasure working with and knowing most of you – many of you I knew your spouses and your children (or at least their names). To those people who don’t work for the town but whom I came to know in Milford – Yanni at Bravo’s Pizza, the people at Cafe at the Oval, those at TD Bank and others I came into contact with – it was my great pleasure meeting and knowing all of you and I will miss seeing you. For 24.5 years, I considered the Town of Milford to be my "home away from home" – or, as Lee Mayhew used to say, "The Center of the Universe." Obviously, I no longer feel that way but, as one of my sisters said to me, "Be proud of your accomplishments and be proud of the stance you took."
And, if I could add one thing – for years I tried to get employees to enroll in a voluntary retirement account. I am happy to say that I took my own advice and am able to comfortably stay home. Please consider enrolling into a Section 457 so that you, too, can retire in comfort. Don’t depend on Social Security to get you through. (There you go – my last push!)
Goodbye and good luck to you. I wish you the very best and will truly miss Milford.