2014-10-24 Washington State Auditor’s Office Exit Conference With Island Transit
Island Transit yesterday had an exit conference with the Washington State Auditor’s Office (hereafter SAO) with video taken and the release of the severance agreement with former Exec Director Martha Rose. Most exit conferences are staid affairs, such as the one with the City of Oak Harbor where SAO employees explain any issues with collaboration between auditor & auditee. In the case of Island Transit; there were audible groans, arrogant grilling and even attempted gifts in what for most state & local governments is a quiet act (1) of meeting with SAO employees to ensure fiscal responsibility.
Midday through 24 October, members of the Island Transit Press Gallery (e.g. IslandPolitics.org, Whidbey News-Times) scooped us (2) with the galling news that former Exec Director Martha Rose thanks to the personal feelings of Island Transit Board Chair Bob Clay towards her Island Transit will now pay over $100,000 to this individual. Last night, a Seattle Transit Blog Page Two writer interviewed Island Transit Board Member & Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley who said for the record he had sought Martha Rose’s resignation letter (3) since her resignation and that the Island Transit Board never approved former Island Transit Exec Director Martha Rose’s “separation agreement” signed back on 20 October 2014. The document was not supposed to be released until she signed it and as such, was not released to the public until 24 October 2014.
That same 24 October 2014, the SAO Exit Conference with Island Transit unfolded. For the first time the general public also learned that former Exec Director Martha Rose was getting special, improper and possibly unconstitutional at a state level treatment from the Island Transit Board. In SAO documentation publicly released at that meeting, the SAO notes with my emphasis:
The Transit’s personnel policy requires the salary schedule for all Transit employees be approved by the Board of Directors. We found no evidence of the Board approving the salary schedule. The only evidence of salary approval is in the budgeting process in departmental lump sum amounts.
The contract between the Transit and the former Executive Director requires the Board to review annually the Executive Director’s performance, contract and salary. However, this annual review did not occur. The last documented review was conducted in 1996. The former Executive Director received salary increases approximately every two years without specific Board approval.
We identified a lack of oversight of the former Executive Director’s leave usage. The Executive Director was self-approving and self-reporting any leave used to the Payroll Specialist. The former Executive Director’s calendar identified the following:
o Attendance at a conference for 16 days in April 2013 when flight records indicate the Director was only in the same city as the conference for four days.
o Vacation for four weeks that spanned July and August of 2013
o Attendance at a conference for 19 days in September 2013 when flight records indicate the Director was only in the same city as the conference for five days.
o Vacation for three weeks that spanned June and July of 2014
Despite the above items noted on the former Executive Director’s calendar, we identified only six days of leave were deducted from the former Executive Director’s leave balances from August 2012 to September 2014.
That same document also notes on page 1 of their Exit Conference agenda:
Preliminary audit results and recommendations were shared in detail with Transit management and personnel as they were developed during the audit
So there was quite a bit of shock and groaning when Island Transit Emergency Executive Director Bob Clay – with no board approval – entered into a “separation agreement” signed back on 20 October 2014 with former Island Transit Executive Director Martha Rose. Within that document is this stipulation:
“Payment of Vacation Time. The Parties acknowledge and agree that Rose has accrued unused paid time off with Island Transit, the value of which totals eighty-eight thousand one hundred ninety dollars and forty cents ($88,190.40), subject to lawful deductions. Rose acknowledges and agrees that this unused paid time off that Rose has accrued with Island Transit will be paid in monthly installments to Rose of the lesser of either eleven thousand dollars ($11,000) per month or the remaining amount due to Rose for payment in full of her accrued unused paid time off. Such monthly installments will begin on February 15, 2015 and will continue until her accrued unused paid time off is paid in full, and such payments will include lawful deductions.”
As Island Transit Board Member Scott Dudley noted in an interview, “If we were following up the vacation and leave status, we ended up paying for almost nine months of vacation.” As such, there are cogent, logical calls for a criminal investigation into who knew what when in regards to former Island Transit Exec Director Martha Rose’s “separation agreement”. Especially as Martha Rose told the Whidbey News-Times when she left she was only staying on after Island Transit’s new facility was complete due to the Island Transit fiscal crisis. But perhaps these developments should be no surprise – more after the jump.