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Oak Harbor city HR manager gets ax

Yet another employee in a management position was fired this week from Oak Harbor City Hall.

Mayor Scott Dudley said Cheryl Lawler, the city’s human resources manager, was terminated Tuesday afternoon after she declined to continue working on a temporary, contract basis.

City Administrator Larry Cort, who’s currently on vacation in Paris, sent a notice to council members about the firing on Election Day.

“It goes without saying that this was a very difficult decision process during which a number of factors were considered before moving ahead with this action,” Cort wrote.

Lawler could not be reached for comment.

Councilman Rick Almberg said he worries that all of the firings will make it difficult to find quality candidates to fill open city positions.

“It just doesn’t make the city look good to have so much turnover,” he said.

Dudley said he is hoping to phase out the “human resources manager” position and replace it with a higher-level “human resources director” position.

Dudley said he believes the city needs someone with the skills and experience to be able to negotiate with the the city’s five unions.

Research shows that other cities similar in size to Oak Harbor have human resources professionals at the “director” level, with higher minimum qualifications than those prescribed for Lawler’s position, Cort said in his notice.

Cort asked Lawler to continue working through the transition period under a professional services agreement through early January, with an option to extend if needed.

Lawler declined the offer, according to Dudley.

Since coming into office as a reformer two years ago, Dudley has fired a city administrator, two city attorneys, a fire chief, a police chief and, most recently, his administrative assistant. The terminations resulted in Dudley being criticized by council members and resulted in lawsuits filed by two former city employees.

 

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