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 Lieutenant(s) instead you appear to micro-manage and on occasion have rescinded your Ltd.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.
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.