Anonymous newsletter angers county supervisors Employee circular prints confidential memos, criticizes co-workers

September 22, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

County employees are hoping "Nasty People` is a one-time publication.

Administrators promise that if the interoffice newsletter appears again, its anonymous authors will face "extremely harsh action, the strongest possible," said Max Bair, the county chief of staff.

Purporting to expose and embarrass nasty co-workers, the paper debuted Monday with several hundred copies crammed under locked office doors at the County Office Building, the Winchester Building and the county maintenance shop.

In three pages printed on bright orange paper, the writers, who identified themselves as a small group of "dissatisfied, hard-working" county employees, released two confidential memos and editorialized on their content and on the writing ability of a bureau chief.

"None of us have Ph.D.'s in English, but as long as we communicate what we should, we are more interested in content than grammar," Bair said.

The paper "took potshots" at the two bureau chiefs who wrote the memos and who long since have settled the controversy about the site for a new county well, said Bair.

At first glance, many readers expected humor from a story titled "Wicked Water Witch of the West." They soon found what many called character assassination.

"I was shocked and stunned," said Sharon Dawson, a grants analyst, who immediately tossed a copy of "Nasty People` into the trash.

"I hate to think a co-worker would do something so vicious," she said.

Dawson, who has been a county employee for nearly eight years, said she has always found a family atmosphere at her job.

"People here get along so well and truly enjoy each other," she said. "Whoever wrote this thing must have felt he couldn't talk to people and resolve conflicts."

Cindy Parr, county spokeswoman, said she was "amazed that someone would go to such lengths to obviously slander another individual."

She also questions the way the paper was distributed.

"Obviously, they were here after hours, when no one was around, to carry out this premeditated, sneaky act " Parr said.

The way the information was gathered and the method of distribution "rocks everyone's security boat" and invades privacy, Dawson said.

Tom Rio, bureau chief of building construction, was one target of the paper's harangue.

The memos were published out of context and did not present a clear picture of the issue, he said.

"There was no constructive reason to do this other than to be petty and mean-spirited," he said. "That most people considered it in this same light is heartening to me."

The idea that a co-worker is preparing additional diatribes "takes us away from our day-to-day duties," Rio said. "We will be wondering who will be the next target and who is out there setting traps."

Bair immediately sent his own memo Monday to the county's nearly 600 employees. He called "Nasty People` the "pinnacle of self-delusioned arrogance and the lowest depths of cowardness," and called it the worst document he had seen in his 26 years of public service.

"It had better not happen again," he said.

Bair would not disclose what preventive measures he was taking, but he has notified law enforcement officers of a possible security breach and asked them to monitor county buildings, particularly in the evening.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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