Charges of Stark County being a troubled workplace emerged again this week when a second county employee leveled allegations of human resource violations against an elected county commissioner. This time the allegations are being brought against Commissioner Carla Arthaud by an employee within the Stark County Emergency Management office, according to documents received by The Press.
This most recent allegation of a human resource violation comes on the heels of multiple county officials confirming that longtime Stark County Commissioner Ken Zander had been accused of a serious human resources violation by a female county employee as reported in The Press on July 22.
Documents received by The Press from an anonymous source contained information which prompted Arthaud to respond.
"I understand that someone has anonymously sent The Press a package of materials relating to a personnel matter. Personnel matters are not supposed to be made public until they are properly resolved through the Commission," Arthaud said. "As such, all I am able to say at this time is that in my role as a county commissioner I have discussed with an employee certain job performance problems, and that employee in response filed a complaint against me. At a public meeting the commission decided to hire an outside investigator who will provide the commission a full report as to whether the complaint has any merit."
Arthaud added, "Other than that I can’t say anymore."
Bill Fahlsing, Stark County Emergency Manager, stated that his offices would have no comment on the allegations and would await the findings of an investigation into the matter.
Human Resources Officials Tom Henning and Linda Krebs both were unavailable for comment concerning the allegations against Arthaud. In previous reporting both officials declined to comment or confirm that their offices received complaints, or to confirm or deny that an active investigation was pending in such matters.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Hope notified commissioners during a July 13 special meeting that the previous meeting to address issues regarding conflicts pertaining to the complaint filed should consider removing Arthaud as the portfolio holder for Emergency Management and assign the portfolio to Commissioner Pete Kuntz until the new commission is elected in November.
Arthaud questioned why the matter was being discussed if she had already been told to have no contact with Emergency Management. Hope stated that the matter should be discussed for the smooth management of that portfolio and to avoid any appearance of any possible conflict that could lead to reprisals, and to protect the government entity.
A no contact order is a civil order for people who are in fear of violence and can be tailored to individual needs, but typically it functions to protect victims from being contacted by the alleged offending party. No court ordered "no contact order" could be found in court records, which indicates that the no contact order was issued by Human Resources and not by a court.
Arthaud argued that the government entity was already in jeopardy, because of conflicts with HR, more so than it is with her being the portfolio holder.
"I got the letter in the mail, where everyone else had it hand delivered. The letter said no contact," Arthaud argued.
"The fact the HR handled this the way they did, I definitely do not want to step down as portfolio holder, but I definitely would go to Commissioner Kuntz with anything or any concerns that I may have until the 75 days of the investigation is done," she said. "I would follow the law."
Arthaud then made a motion to remain on the Emergency Management portfolio and have no contact with any department head in that portfolio. Adding the caveat that should any questions arise she would bring the matter to Kuntz.
Said motion failed for a lack of a second and was immediately followed by Hope advising the commission to act and suggested crafting any type of compromise in order to address this situation and avoid any appearance of impropriety or any appearance to the public where the situation will continue until the investigation concludes.
Zander then made a motion to have Kuntz take the Emergency Management portfolio temporarily until the HR issues are resolved. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Dean Franchuk.
The commission voted unanimously in the affirmative and the motion carried.