Rich Guillen is still at Carmel City Hall – but laying low.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
In the morning of June 26, Carmel-by-the-Sea’s headquarters are calm. Administrative Coordinator Becky Reisdorf takes calls by City Hall’s service window. Employees occasionally cross the hall from the planning department, silently dialing their security codes to get into the administrative side.
Barely a week ago, City Administrator Rich Guillen was accused of systemic sexual harassment, discrimination and favoritism toward two female subordinates with whom he allegedly had affairs. It’s still unclear whether Guillen will be put on leave, or otherwise disciplined, in response to the complaint.
Mayor Sue McCloud says the city’s legal counsel has clearly directed her and City Councilmembers to keep mum on the matter. Councilwoman Karen Sharp confirms she is not allowed to discuss it. City attorney Don Freeman simply states Guillen is “still city manager” and refers other questions to Richard Bolanos of San Francisco law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, which is handling the city’s defense. Bolanos does not return phone calls.
There are, however, clues the accused city administrator is staying on the job – with his head down.
Guillen, who has ignored repeated phone calls from the Weekly, is indeed in the office, Reisdorf says – but he’s in a meeting. And no, he can’t spare a minute. And she doesn’t know when it will be over. Nearly an hour passes, and Guillen does not emerge. He reportedly skipped the Chamber of Commerce’s annual golf tournament, where he was expected to compete, June 25.
Also absent is Heidi Burch, the assistant city administrator/city clerk who is often a smiling presence near the service desk. Burch, too, has ignored repeated phone calls from the Weekly since the legal complaint was filed. Her voicemail says she is away from her desk or on the phone, but an e-mail auto responder says she’s out of the office until June 29.
Though the June 17 complaint filed against the city by Human Resources Manager Jane Miller doesn’t identify the two women allegedly involved by name, its details, including dates of hire, strongly suggest Burch is “Female B,” and former community services director Christie Miller is “Female A.” Miller, who now lives in Oklahoma, could not be reached for comment.
The City Council is ultimately responsible for deciding what to do with Guillen while the case is in litigation. No upcoming closed sessions are on the calendar yet, Reisdorf says.
But McCloud says a closed session after the next public meeting is likely, at least to discuss labor negotiations and other legal issues Freeman puts on the agenda.
“I will tell you this,” she adds coyly: “I don’t expect any dramatic announcements in the near term.”