Wednesday Jul 20 2011
No answers in CSD chief's departure
By: Eric Laughlin, Telegraph correspondent
Board appoints interim general manager
Residents are voicing support for the El Dorado Hills Community Services District general manager who abruptly left his office last month after the board of directors asked him to take a “personal leave of absence.” Since it’s a personnel matter, there are plenty of questions but no answers as to why General Manager John Skeel remains at home but continues to pick up a paycheck. Skeel had been hired just months ago in January, and in addition to a generous benefits package, earns a salary of $126,500. Roseville attorney Ellen Arabian-Lee is representing Skeel and said that at the time her client was placed on leave, he was hopeful he and the board could resolve their differences so that he could return to work, but that “it has since been made clear to him that that is not an option.” Arabian-Lee added that Skeel is apologetic to the public and district employees for his silence thus far, but that he’s contemplating giving a full interview with the media to tell his story. The district’s board has received several letters in support of Skeel and one was actually read aloud at last week’s regular meeting. In his letter, resident Bill Sturch requests that the board immediately reinstate Skeel. “I believe he fits well into our community,” he writes. “And after being chosen from some 70 candidates for the job, I would think he must be well qualified.” Resident Joseph Wilson writes that he found the news of Skeel’s departure “upsetting,” and told the board to “reconsider your actions and let the man back to the job you hired him to do.” In a written response to Sturch, board President Guy Gertsch said he understands how difficult it is for the community and district employees to draw accurate conclusions about “the current state of affairs concerning John.” “While I find the laws that restrict our ability to release information to be frustrating at times,” he writes, “I also understand the laws exist to ensure the privacy of all employees. And the general manager is no exception.” CSD counsel Robert Thurbon was reached for comment last week and would only say that he and Arabian-Lee were working to resolve the differences between Skeel and the board. In the meantime, the board has appointed Sandi Kukkola as interim general manager.