All Politics is Local

‘Unprofessional behavior and poor judgment’

Remember the email I wrote about last week from Councilor David Madore to Acting County Manager Mark McCauley?

I got it. No court order involved.

Bill Richardson with the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office forwarded the exchange that apparently had McCauley questioning whether he would still have a job in the new year. He sent it to me on Friday, when I was unfortunately out of the office dealing with a rampant flea infestation at my apartment. I’m sorry I’m a little late on this.

Here is the email Madore sent to McCauley.

From: Madore, David
Sent: Monday, October 26, 2015 5:58 PM
To: McCauley, Mark
Subject: Professional Performance

Mark,

I recommended your appointment as Acting County Manager trusting that you possessed the professional leadership skills necessary for the job. Any new position requires time acclimate. I think it’s been around two years now.

It is certainly easier to avoid conflict and trouble areas than to deal with them responsibly as they arise so they can be  resolved. As a rule, you can see that the vast majority of my communications with you have been positive and encouraging.

Yet, I find it necessary to write this second letter to you in an attempt to correct a problem area that appears to be getting worse.

As Councilors, we are responsible for the professional conduct of our acting county manager. We must ensure that the person holding that position possesses the required experience, people skills, and good judgment to serve as the chief executive of a diverse team of department directors.

When those skills are lacking, moral falls, directors feel unsupported, and staff stress levels increase. For those reasons, I must appeal to you to make some corrections.

Ten days ago, on October 16, I sent you a letter that I hoped would help you make some corrections. I purposely kept the message positive and encouraging. That letter was not just a letter of commendation for a department head that demonstrated exemplary professional performance, but it also addressed the need to improve the communications and performance for you to ensure that our staff always fully represents the truth to the Board. It appears now, that I should have been more direct.

That letter explained how staff misrepresented the truth and nearly resulted in our approving a policy that goes above and beyond state requirements. That error could have eventually unnecessarily harmed some citizens. My October 16 letter also asked you to do several things that you have not done. Instead, your actions since then have made matters worse.

Ordinances are by definition, policies that our Board must ensure are appropriate. Our Board can only succeed in making such polices if we are fully and accurately informed. The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) is county policy that will affect many citizens. It could also affect our ability as a county to responsibly govern in a way that effectively satisfies the State Department of Ecology without undue difficulty.

Our Board depends upon the expertise and knowledge our Planning Department and our Department of Environmental Services (DES) to effectively optimize our DOE related policies. As documented in my letter, our Planning Department misinformed the Board on a critical SMP issue. That error could have been avoided if one department had not been excluded from the policy making preparation process.

As a Board, we voted to pause the process until the necessary known-good information was ready. I expected that preparation to include participation and buy-in from both departments. My confidence in the proposed policy would be bolstered by knowing that both departments are in agreement that it is the best one possible.

I did not receive any response from you as I requested in my letter.  Instead, I see that the SMP has been added to tomorrow’s BOCC agenda again without the required information. I also learned that the Department of Environmental Services has still been left out of the loop.

After asking you in person for an update this morning, I learned that you received my letter, did not intend to respond, and had no intention of correcting the problem. Then I learned more disappointing news. I heard that after our brief meeting, you interrupted the DES staff meeting of 10 managers and publicly humiliated our DES Director in front of those managers inferring that he didn’t know what was going on in his department. Didn’t you just finish a session on the dos and don’ts of good leadership with our staff an hour earlier?

The remedy was not to send the DES director that had excluded from the process, an email informing him that the SMP was about to be approved after it is too late. Rather, our request was that the preparation of the proposed policy include the information, expertise, and orderly vetting of both our Planning and Environmental Services Departments.

A few minutes ago, our Clerk informed me that the SMP is being pulled from tomorrow’s agenda. That is appropriate since none of us were in any better position to consider it than we were the first time.

It grieves me to have to confront you about this unsatisfactory performance. This unprofessional behavior and poor judgment is not what I would expected from a well-qualified County Manager.

I am willing to help and support you to improve your performance. Your feedback will help me to better understand things from your perspective and the appropriate path forward.

I welcome your response,

David

McCauley responded last Wednesday, two days after our second story on the issue.

From: McCauley, Mark
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2015 8:48 AM
To: Madore, David
Subject: RE: Professional Performance

Thank you, Councilor Madore, for bringing your concerns to my attention. I have always been committed personally to continuous improvement in all areas of my life and I consider your comments an opportunity to improve further.  Every evening after the work day is done I reflect on the events of the day and my personal interactions with those I work with. I evaluate how I handled those interactions: did I treat people the right way?; did I say the right things?; was I prepared enough?; did I have my facts straight?   I have reflected at length on the events discussed in your email and will make the appropriate adjustments going forward.

I am devoted to this county, its employees and its citizens. I was honored to be offered the opportunity to serve as county administrator and acting county manager. I look forward to the opportunity to serve as the county manager when the five member council is formed should it choose to offer me the position. Navigating the challenges the new board will face will be difficult. I believe I have the skills, judgment and abilities to ensure the success of the new board and will do everything in my power to make it happen.

The future of the county is bright and I hope I can continue to serve as we move towards that future.

Mark

And finally, this from Madore.

From: “Madore, David” <David.Madore@clark.wa.gov>
Date: November 4, 2015 at 9:21:24 AM PST
To: “McCauley, Mark” <Mark.McCauley@clark.wa.gov>
Subject: RE: Professional Performance

Mark,

Thank you for your encouraging response that reflects your commitment to continually learn from challenging experiences.

One of the best indicators of a leader who is growing ever more capable is their ability to take responsibility, to graciously learn from failure, and to apply the lessons learned.

You have my support and gratitude for accepting the challenge to become an ever more capable top level leader. I look forward to continuing a very healthy working relationship that focuses on making others successful.

David

On a personal note, the few days after our stories on this issue ran were very frustrating for me as a reporter. By the time the stories ran, I was aware of this email and believed, based on McCauley’s comments as well as those tips I received from reliable sources, that the story I reported was fair and, more importantly, accurate.

Despite that, I was called slimy. I was called a liar. I was called a skank, which, by the way, is a really bizarre response to a news story. Pick your insults better, Internet.

The point is, I hope these emails clear up whatever questions remained and what facts were unclear. Madore sent McCauley an email indicating he was dissatisfied with his job performance. McCauley took that to mean he should be concerned for his job. My job as a journalist is to report facts and allow you to make your own decisions. Interpret these emails, and McCauley’s response to them, as you will.

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the Clark County government reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at kaitlin.gillespie@columbian.com or 360-735-4517.

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