News

City human resources director fired

"The City of Oak Harbor no longer has a human resources director and city officials are unsure whether the position will exist in the future.City Attorney Phil Bleyhl said Human Resources Director Andy Keene was terminated. He would not say why Mayor Patty Cohen chose to fire Keene, but cited confidentiality provisions that usually shield personnel information from public scrutiny.Keene recently appealed his termination to the city's personnel board, but the board upheld the termination.Keene could not be reached for comment as his home telephone number has been disconnected.Former Mayor Steve Dernbach hired Keene and created the human resources director position and department several years ago after convincing the city council that the position was needed.But Keene was criticized by some community members and the News-Times editorial board in 1998 after a News-Times article pointed out inaccurate and misleading information in a report he wrote comparing the salaries of mayors in several cities. His report stated that Dernbach's salary should be increased since other mayors make far more. But in its investigation, the News-Times found that he overstated other mayors' salaries by as much as $40,000.Cohen, however, hasn't decided whether to fill the position again. Bleyhl said Keene's duties have been divided up between several employees, including himself and Interim City Supervisor Doug Merriman. Cohen is going to wait until after a permanent city supervisor is hired to make any decisions about restarting the one-person HR department. The human resources director has been responsible for recruitment, employee selection, evaluation of employees, discipline, managing benefits, helping with collection bargaining and administering the civil service testing. "

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