In response to the multiple statements regarding her 2015 raise, Director of Human Resources, Michele Campbell Ennis, Ph.D. is wanting to set the record straight about the discrepancies being reported in the press and the reality regarding the letter dated November 19, 2015.
The former Finance Director, Leslie M. Lewis, approached Ennis in 2015, stating she had talked to County Executive, Bob Culver about a raise for Ennis. Culver requested a market analysis for the Director of Human Resources position. The letter was not a formal document meant for anything more than to give Culver the results of a market analysis conducted on two local Human Resource Directors’ salaries. Lewis asked Ennis to perform the market analysis, but due to Ennis’ feeling that it would be inappropriate to have an active role in her own raise, Ennis asked Lewis if she (Lewis) or another employee could do it. At this point, Lewis got one of the Human Resources employees to make the calls and write the recommendation to be sent to the County Executive’s office for consideration.
Lewis agreed with the market analysis and was asked by the County Executive to put it in writing for his approval. She requested that a Human Resources personnel write the letter and send it back to her to be placed on her letterhead for the Executive’s approval. Lewis failed to transfer this letter to her stationary, in turn instructed the Human Resources employee to proceed with the letter ‘as is’ and adding the employee’s name as they had conducted the actual market analysis. This entire procedure was witnessed by several Human Resources personnel.
Lewis understood this letter would go into the personnel file of Ennis suggesting a pay increase based on market analysis research. The recommendation showed a 12% increase and Culver cut the raise down to 8%.
During an annual external audit by Pigg, Krahl and Stern (PKS), Ennis’ personnel file was randomly selected for review. The letter in question was handed over to the external auditor by Ennis personally. In addition to the letter, she also handed over the Personnel Action Notice, the official authorization document that reflected her raise. PKS contacted the Executive’s office to verify his signature and the legitimacy of the raise. After confirming the signature and authorization by Executive Culver, the matter was settled with the external auditors. Everything was approved and the auditors went on to other items.
Sometime later, the County Internal Auditor Steve Roser requested this letter from PKS. How or why Roser and Council would have further interest in this subject, specifically the letter, is unknown to the Executive staff. PKS dropped the matter and told the Executive staff on multiple occasions that they did not submit Roser the letter. The presentation of the external audit to Council made no mention of this letter, which would have been required if it was considered to be a problem.
Why Council chose to move forward with a forensic audit is perplexing. What remains confusing is why Council decided to hire an outside auditor when in fact their own Internal Auditor is a Certified Fraud Examiner.
In cooperation with Council and the forensic auditor, Kern was given the chain of events in interviews multiple times by many employees. However, Kern seemed to refuse to accept those interviews and continued to badger employees with accusations that they had engaged in fraudulent activity. After one such incident left an employee in tears, Culver terminated the interviews.
Finally, Ennis expressed her disappointment in the Council and its leadership by stating, “I am very disheartened by John Cannon’s attempt to discredit me after working for the County for over 14-1/2 years without any incidents. I do realize my job isn’t always popular with employees, but this goes beyond disgruntled employees’ typical upsets.”