Monterey County, Confidential - Carmel
Silent Scandal - Discreet is the word for accused city administrator.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Not much seems to happen in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The tony village finds some spice in doggie glamour shoots and occasional celebrity appearances, sure, but it’s not the kind of place one would look for scandal.
At least, not until an employee filed a sexual harassment suit against City Administrator Rich Guillen.
A June complaint by Human Resources Manager Jane Miller paints a lascivious picture of her boss, alleging he had affairs with two of his subordinates and rewarded them with promotions and pay raises. Miller claims Guillen flirted with her too, and retaliated when she didn’t return his advances.
Moreover, Miller alleges, Guillen took a divide-and-conquer approach to all of his female employees, protecting those he viewed as loyal and forcing out those who fell out of his favor. He suppressed internal investigations into his own conduct, she further alleges.
The mayor and City Council, to which Guillen reports, knew about his discriminatory behavior but failed to prevent or stop it, she alleges. The complaint suggests “Guillen’s power at City Hall was unchecked,” and cues a series of settlements with employees over 40 years old (mostly managers) who left the city under Guillen’s pressure.
The attorney handling the case for the city, Rick Bolanos of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, says he can’t discuss matters under litigation.
Guillen has likewise kept mum, as have Mayor Sue McCloud, the City Council and the women allegedly involved in the affairs – retired community services director Christie Miller and City Clerk Heidi Burch. Guillen and Burch are still reporting to work.
The city rejected all of the accusations in a legal response in mid-July. The first court date is set for December.
And while most current city employees are keeping quiet, three former employees who spoke with the Weekly on condition of anonymity backed up Miller’s claim, saying it’s mostly consistent with their experiences working under Guillen.
Another long-time employee said the female staffers in Guillen’s office are known as “Rich’s bitches.”
“It was a harem-like atmosphere,” said the source, who asked not to be identified. “The working atmosphere in the city is stressful and demoralizing. People are afraid for their jobs.”
Mayor McCloud seems to keep such a tight grip on the city that it’s hard to imagine any repercussions coming to Guillen, her right-hand man, unless they’re court-ordered. In that case, she may have some explaining to do, too.
Meanwhile, she’s staying the course. “I understand your point of view, but a person is innocent until proven guilty,’’ she told the Weekly recently, explaining her steadfast refusal to comment on the subject. “Perhaps the line of inquiry should be directed to the person who leveled the charges. We hope this will be all buttoned up – I shouldn’t say buttoned – in the not-too-distant future.”