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Letter | Bertlin for Council
After all Mercer Island has been through with the Londi Lindell lawsuit, I was gratified to hear the City Council will soon undertake a performance review of city manager Rich Conrad, and the results will be made public.
However, my hope that the Council will be able to deal impartially with Conrad is greatly tempered by recent comments made by two of its members: Mayor Jim Pearman and Deputy Mayor El Jahncke.
To briefly summarize events, under manager Conrad’s watch, the city amassed close to $1 million in attorney’s fees to defend against former city attorney Lindell’s lawsuit. She alleged she was the victim of sexual harassment and was fired as an act of retaliation. The city’s insurance carrier ultimately settled with Ms. Lindell for $1 million rather than going to trial.
Under Conrad’s watch, the city was also fined $90,560 in federal court (and ordered to pay attorney’s fees) for withholding documents from Lindell.
As these dominoes were toppling, Mayor Pearman rated Conrad “probably one of the best city managers in the state,” in a July 10, 2011, Seattle Times article.
As for Deputy Mayor Jahncke, during an Oct. 18 City Council candidate debate, Jahncke termed Conrad a victim in this whole matter — a victim of Londi Lindell.
(Jahncke didn’t mention that Lindell’s lawsuit contended he made sexually inappropriate comments to her. He did, however, note that almost a decade ago Conrad had propositioned a female subordinate. That woman received a $90,000 settlement.)
Rich Conrad has been city manager for three decades. I’m sure he’s done good things for the city. But the recent and very costly events have convinced me that an honest, clear-eyed review of his performance is due.
Can we really count on that from Mayor Pearman and Deputy Mayor Jahncke?