Editor’s note: Frank Stevenson’s name was spelled Stephenson in the document provided by the city. Lieutenant was abbreviated Ltd. in the document provided by the city.

Former Lebanon Police Chief Ben Silverman agreed on Feb. 22 to release a portion of his personnel file related to his time as chief. The city posted the document online, linked to Facebook at about 1 p.m. on Feb. 22.

The Lebanon Express and Albany Democrat Herald requested the documents after Ginger Allen, assistant city manager and human resources manager, sent a press release announcing Silverman’s resignation on Jan. 28.

Silverman’s severance agreement contains a non-disclosure agreement. The documents released include an evaluation and Silverman’s response.

Overall goals and benchmarks

On Nov. 5, City Manager John Hitt sent an email to Allen with a list of 10 goals and benchmarks for Silverman.

“Ginger, this memo was delivered by me and Ken on July 23,” Hitt said.

Number eight on the list states: “Understand that you will, inevitably, make mistakes and come under criticism, from both within and without the department. Determine that you will not let such criticism deter you from moving forward with departmental needs and goals and making whatever decisions you need to make.”

Also among the goals is to be cautious with recommendations for promotions.

Evaluation and response

The evaluation is dated December 2012 and is not signed. Silverman’s performance was scored with mostly marks of 0 and 1 on a scale of 0 to 4, with 4 being exceptional and 0 being unacceptable.

In his written response, Silverman did not address each rating or allegation individually, saying he did not think that would be productive or beneficial to anyone concerned.

“In the end, I want the record to reflect that I have responses for each of the criticisms made, many of which are inaccurate and unfair,” Silverman said in his letter.

He said he did not believe the evaluation was fair or done in good faith.

In the area of quality of work, Hitt wrote:

“Routine and lower level decisions should be delegated to your dept. Lieutenant(s) instead you appear to micro-manage and on occasion have rescinded your Ltd. decisions causing confusion within the department.”

In the area of reliability and attendance, Hitt wrote:

“You are very delinquent in the filling of the patrol officer vacancies, much to the detriment of the department, and you have not yet begun the recruitment for a permanent lieutenant.”

In his response, Silverman said he and Hitt agreed to hire either two lieutenants or a lieutenant and a captain, depending on whether there was a strong in-house candidate.

Silverman said Hitt and Allen bypassed the internal recruitment without telling him.

“At this time it was clear that you intended to facilitate an administrative change in my organization without informing me beforehand of your decision,” Silverman said.

That is when he was directed by Hitt to appoint three specific people from within LPD to the lieutenant and captain positions, Silverman said.

“I believe a decision was made (for whatever reason) prior to this evaluation that you and the assistant manager/HR manager no longer desired to have me serve as Chief of Police for the City of Lebanon,” Silverman said.

In a series of emails dated Nov. 26, Hitt set up a meeting with Silverman and discussed his performance evaluation.

“I have not been able to put the finishing touches to your performance evaluation,” Hitt said. “So, I would like to defer that to Dec. 5.”

“However, let’s go ahead and meet today at 3:30 to discuss another matter. I have asked Ginger to attend as well,” Hitt added.

The next document in the file is titled “Mutual Agreement & Understanding between Ben Silverman and the City of Lebanon.” It is not signed by either party.

Eight matters to be agreed upon by Silverman and the city “in light of the numerous and serious deficiencies” were noted in the Nov. 26 performance evaluation.

Among them is Silverman’s agreement “to support the following officers in their promotion to their new duties: Captain - Frank Stephenson, Lt. Scott Bressler, Lt. - Greg Burroughs.”

According to the documents, Silverman was put on decision making leave on Dec. 7.

“When I was given a copy of the evaluation and the option to resign, Ginger took my gun, keys to the building and ID card,” Silverman said.

The severance agreement

The Express’ initial request included Silverman’s complete personnel file records from June 1, 2012, through Jan. 31, 2013, including the terms of leave, resignation and any severance information.

In Silverman’s severance agreement, signed Jan. 17, the city agreed to provide a severance payment and a neutral letter of reference.

The city also agreed to not oppose any claim by Silverman for unemployment compensation benefits, but reiterated it would tell he resigned.

In section 2 of the agreement, the city agreed to report that Silverman resigned if contacted by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards.

The severance pay was $45,600 for six months of salary, and $10,962 in accrued vacation time. He also is receiving six months of medical benefit coverage, for an unspecified cost to taxpayers.

Silverman agreed to fully release any claims for a list of reasons including wages, damages, attorney’s fees, emotional distress, and wrongful discharge.

What’s next

The Lebanon Express has requested copies of Silverman’s previous evaluations. In his response, Silverman said he had never received a poor evaluation.

City Attorney Tre' Kennedy said he has sent Silverman an email requesting his permission, but as of press time had not gotten a response.

The Express will also request the initial goals for former chiefs Mike Healy, Mike Schulte and Thor Dahle to gain a point of reference.

A PDF of Silverman's personnel records are attached to this story.

(7) comments

HotTopix
HotTopix

I don't know where to begin. Ben was railroaded and he's not the first and certainly won't be the last as long as the current assistant city manager/hr person is at the city. To give a valued employee (or at least you said so when you gave him the job) 0's on his evaluation after only being at this job for SIX MONTHS defies reason. I happen to see a pattern here. You haven't learned from your past fiascos and the skeletons falling out of the closet are mounting up. For the assistant city manager/hr person to be telling the chief of police to promote certain people and to evaluate him as deficient for not doing so in her timing is BEYOND absurd. How about the citizens hold you accountable ms. hr person for not getting the hr train moving down the track to hire a new city manger? Oh yeah, I forget, the evaluations you give others don't EVER apply to you, do they? These comments I’m copying from Mr. Silverman’s evaluation makes me laugh because it describes you, ms hr person, to a tee. Let’s read it together shall we?
“To my knowledge you have not encouraged or provide (should be a ‘d’ there ms I am perfect) staff development. This is having a negative impacted (impacted? Another typo?) on employee morale. Selecting new employees is a very difficult task and is acquired mainly through experience. As discussed previously in this evaluation you are behind on your department recruitment and it has resulted in negative morale with the PD (or in your case, ms hr, the entire city, not just one department). I would encourage you to read some leadership books dealing with human behavior, and thus increasing (increasing ANOTHER typo? Should be increase) your ability to identify positive and negative traits during recruitment processes. (We all see how YOU, ms hr, EXCEL in these abilities. Especially all the ne’er-do-wells you’ve relieved us from in the past 5 years or so. Good riddance eh? You have certainly saved us from all the negative traits these people had like actually showing some integrity in who they were. Whew crises averted here.)
Mr. Silverman acknowledges he will not micro-mange? Are you kidding me? You are the queen of micro-management and any idiot can see that from the documents they just read. In light of the numerous and serious deficiencies after 6 whole months as the chief, goodness, 6 whole months, can't even go here, it is so obvious there is no training, coaching, or personnel management and it is just disgusting. The hr person has met NUMEROUS occasions with Ben and not documented them. How many failures can one person rack up and yet those are excused? You went about hiring and micro-managing the police department just like you do with every department you get your hands on and yet you still remain there wreaking havoc on anyone and everything you come in contact with that you don't particularly like or will play your games. Who in the heck is Allen to take away our police chief's gun, id and keys? Where is the city manger? How is this allowed to go on and on?

"When I discussed some personnel issues with you we discussed a particular employee and it was my impression that we had come to an agreement about that person only to learn that when having a discussion with the Assistant City Manager, your Administrative Assistant and your Lieutenant you lead them to believe something different.” As messed up as that place is, is it any wonder that things are misinterpreted, and distorted. With people afraid to even open up and tell anyone the truth for fear of losing their jobs is it any wonder that this kind of communication happens? It is VERY plain to me that Ben has been another unfortunate passenger on the Hitt-Allen railroad of employees who have been sold out and gone down the track of good people who've had their careers thwarted by miserable, sad people who get pleasure by believing they are something when they are nothing.

gobeavs
gobeavs

Mr. Silverman may or may not have been the right man for this job, I honestly cannot speak to that. My opinion on the City Manager and Asst. City Manager, however, is not at all positive. I think they both are playing politics, and both have too much power and influence over the system. I think there is definite cronyism happening within the city government, and those two are the primary cause of the problems.

I'm sure Mr. Silverman was not given a fair shake.

Dave Muckey
Dave Muckey

I have a question. Doesn't the police chief serve at the pleasure of the mayor?

Hi Dave,
No, according to the job description listed on the city's website, the police chief "works under direct supervision of the city manager."
The city manager serves at the pleasure of the city council.
Emily Mentzer
Lebanon Express editor

dworrier
dworrier

So since the city manager has prematurely bowed out and relinquished responsibility to the assistant manager whose behavior intensifies the city's problems and prevents the stable function of the Police Dept in the Justice Center then where is the city council? Are they worried about exercising their power of council to immediately address the deep divide Ms Allen is generating? When does the status of everyone else count over one person to them?

Country Boy
Country Boy

It should be clear to anyone that doesn't have oatmeal mush for brains that our City HR department is not only dysfunctional, it is also completely out of control. We are clearly never going to gain stability, retain good people, or obtain good people as long as the current situation continues. While it is almost always unfortunate to see anyone lose their job, it is apparent that our HR manager has had little concern for the former city employees whom she has already forced out in one way or another. Therefore it follows that she has earned the same level of regard from the citizens of this community. The management history of Ms. Allen has clearly been a disaster. Lebanon has lost several able, competent, and valuable employees due to her actions. It must stop if the damage is to ever be contained. Come on City Councilors; this isn't fun but it is your duty. You have the authority and you have the responsibility to the citizens to do what is necessary to rectify this out-of-control human wrecking ball.

HotTopix
HotTopix

Could our city look anymore STUPID? Nope don’t think so.

From the cities website:
Mr. Silverman, on his own recognizance, chose to resign instead.

Definition of recognizance (n)

re•cog•ni•zance
[ ri kógniz'nss ]

1.formal bond: a formal agreement made by somebody before a judge or magistrate to do something, e.g. to appear in court at a set date
2.money pledged: a sum of money pledged by somebody making a recognizance, to be forfeited if the agreed act is not carried out

My evaluation: You rate a "0" rating. Under comments to improve. Try to learn how to use big words in sentences that will actually make sense.

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