Board to discuss CSD head's 'termination'

By: Eric Laughlin, Telegraph Correspondent
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The Community Services District general manager, who was placed on paid leave just months after being hired, will meet with board members this month to respond to arguments for his termination. John Skeel’s attorney Ellen Arabian-Lee states in an e-mail that her client was served notice to attend an Aug. 23 meeting to address “issues of termination of the contract for cause relating mostly to issues John had with the HR Director.” Attorney David Daniels is also representing Skeel and said the district’s claims have absolutely no merit and that he and Arabian-Lee plan to respond to them in writing in the coming days. “They’re saying he retaliated against one individual who they say was a whistle blower,” Daniels said Friday. “But (Skeel) was doing his job. And there wasn’t any whistle blowing. This individual was disgruntled and did everything possible to put (Skeel) in a situation less favorable to the board.” Daniels said he attended last week’s regularly scheduled CSD meeting, at which seven individuals took to the podium to confront the directors. “The community wants to know why this board is not being transparent,” he said. “One even said that the outcome of this matter will determine how they vote in the next election.” He went on to say that he agrees with residents who spoke up accusing the board of micromanaging the district. “From day one when (Skeel) quote ‘ruffled feathers’ by doing his job, the board felt threatened and wanted to move him out,” he said. According to the section of Skeel’s contract that discusses termination for cause, reasons seem to be broad and include breach of contract, violation of district policy or by “failure to perform his responsibilities as set forth in the identified goals and objectives to be negotiated between the board of directors and general manager during his first 30 days of employment.” Daniels said he’s hopeful Skeel can return to his job, but if not, he said he will attempt to achieve a severance package. “He gave up a good job in Colorado and moved his family here thinking he was guaranteed a job for three years,” he added. “It’s him who is being retaliated against simply for doing his job.” CSD attorney Robert Thurbon wouldn’t discuss specific allegations relating to the matter, but acknowledged the Aug. 23 meeting and said it would address the termination section of Skeel’s contract. The district’s human resources director, Tracey Lynn Lowry, is a consultant who also worked with the Cameron Park CSD in the hiring of a general manager. Earlier this year, General Manager Fred Smith was let go after only a year on the job, a move that sparked controversy among residents. Cameron Park is currently interviewing a new set of candidates for the GM post. Skeel’s attorneys made a request last week to obtain a deposition from Lowry prior to the Aug. 23 conference, but Thurbon and the board declined the notion.