To the Editor:
When I first read last week’s article “Library staff flee ‘bullying’” I let out an audible moan of disgust and disbelief. (Stowe Reporter, Aug. 12, 2021)
First the Kyle Walker fiasco and now we are blowing up the library with a toxic and abusive environment? I sit dumbfounded at our town’s level of ineptitude and mismanagement of precious human resources.
Very little other conclusion can be drawn from not one, not two, but three employees quitting — within one month — citing an untenable and hostile workplace. One where, when they sought a remedy — because one was not forthcoming from the director — they were instead admonished and further punished.
Basically, what happens at the library stays at the library. We aren’t in Vegas, this isn’t a cult, this is a public resource with town employees who deserve respect and sound leadership. And yet instead, the people responsible for that very unprofessional toxic environment still have their jobs.
The victims must leave, the abusers get to stay. Color me shocked, not shocked.
Verified reports of employees in harm’s way, vulgar gestures at staff, berating of guests and fellow employees, bullying, lack of leadership and an overall demoralizing workplace for well over a year are noted by all the departing personnel. Employees said they dreaded coming to work and had zero faith in the library director, Cindy Weber.
Yet our town manager, Charles Safford, said she was “the best director the library ever had.” Wait, what? Who says that when it is glaringly obvious that nothing could be further from the truth? The disconnect from reality is astonishing. The numerous problems and complaints were happening for well over a year, Safford knew about them, and his conclusion is that Weber is the best of the best. That is unbelievable.
Then again maybe not. This is not Safford’s first mismanagement of sensitive and consequential human resource decisions. The real question is when will it be his last?
The fact is that human resources is not just something you toss onto someone’s job because it’s incredibly easy and a trained monkey could do it. It’s not. It’s a profession where people get advanced degrees, extensive training and treat the position with the seriousness it deserves.
It also requires an astute sensitivity at recognizing situations that need immediate remedies, even if that means terminating senior ranking employees. That we seem to be operating in this old boy mentality, or at the very least an environment that protects senior management at the expense of other employees and/or their victims, is grotesque.
I am sure there is more than one lawyer salivating after that article.
It is obvious to me that the town needs a designated human resource manager, if even as a part-time position. We have dozens of employees, and the responsibility of the work is too important to allow favoritism and lack of experience to be our guiding mantra. Sure, we save a few bucks by having Safford do it, but how much more is it going to cost us in the long run?