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July 18, 2013
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Truckee rec/park officials find fault with grand jury report

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Members of the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District board of directors are questioning recent Nevada County Grand Jury findings that detail an employee harassment incident and safety issues at select district facilities.

“I’m disappointed with the findings,” board director Kevin Murphy said this week.

According to an investigation report from the 2012-13 grand jury, a district manager overheard comments in December 2010 that were perceived to be “harassment.” The incident was verbally reported to TDRPD General Manager Steve Randall.

About 30 days after the incident was reported, a meeting occurred between Randall and the subject of the complaint, who was given a verbal warning.

Approximately 90 days after the initial verbal complaint, the suspected harasser filed a written complaint of harassment against the employee who initiated the verbal complaint, according to the grand jury. Randall reviewed the written complaint and met with all involved parties.

The grand jury found that there was a lack of timeliness in the investigation and settlement of employee complaints. Randall acknowledged to the grand jury that the matter of “perceived sexual harassment” should have been addressed more promptly, according to the report.

Under the section on unlawful harassment, the district’s handbook states: “The district will immediately undertake effective, thorough and objective investigation of the harassment allegations.”

Randall didn’t advise the board of either harassment complaint, the grand jury found.

The grand jury is recommending the board require the general manager to report all issues, including harassment, to the board.

Board director Peter Werbel said he and another board member talked to Randall prior to the report’s release earlier this year, informing him that the board needs to be notified of similar situations should they come up in the future.

It’s unclear based on the report if both harassment complaints were sexual in nature.

This week, Randall declined to comment on the report until the board issues a collective response.

OTHER FINDINGS

The grand jury also investigated the closure of some piers/docks along Donner Lake due to safety concerns. A TDRPD employee told the grand jury there is no plan to repair the closed piers/docks, according to the report.

It’s recommended the board develop and implement an ongoing evaluation process to ensure all facility equipment is in “good working order.”

The grand jury also found the alarm system for the district’s community center was not being used, as all employees were not trained to operate it, and is recommending the board develop and implement policy to include proper training on the use of all facility equipment in a timely manner.

In its investigation, the grand jury also found that many of the policies, procedures, rules and regulations stated within the district’s handbook are outdated, recommending their update.

This week, board chair Kristin York said handbook updates have already been addressed, and have taken place over the past several months.

Werbel disagreed with the grand jury’s finding that there is a lack of open communication between district management and the five-member board, a sentiment echoed by other directors.

“I don’t know where they’re coming from (on that),” Werbel said this week, citing an open door policy among management.

The board of directors has until Sept. 28 to formally respond.

“All organizations — public or private — benefit from constructive feedback from time to time, and this is how we look at this report,” York said.

The report will be discussed at the board’s Thursday, July 25, meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the Truckee Community Recreation Center at 8924 Donner Pass Road.

The grand jury’s investigation stemmed from a citizen’s complaint. The jury developed its findings along with recommendations after conducting interviews with board members, district staff, Nevada County Auditor-Controller staff and members of the public. The jury also reviewed various documents received from the TDRPD, Nevada County and the public.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 18, 2013 08:03PM Published Jul 21, 2013 02:02PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.