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Menlo Park silent on extent of gymnastics program review

Original post made on Mar 12, 2013

Although Menlo Park City Manager Alex McIntyre released a letter to the community saying he had reviewed to his satisfaction the circumstances of a popular gymnastics instructor's termination, questions remain about the extent of his review.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 9:23 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by Long Time Menlo Man, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Come on City Council. Why did she really get fired?

Posted by N.D., a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Thank you Teacher Chris for your honesty and for taking a stand to try and right this wrong. And thank you to the Almanac for continued coverage of this saga. The hostile work environment created when Cherise Brandell moved Karen Mihalek back to the gymnastics department makes me wonder what in the world our Community Services management team is thinking. They deserve a failing grade in Customer Service and Leadership. Our teachers deserve better and our City deserves better.

Posted by L.P, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

What does Mayor Ohtaki have to say about this? McIntyre is an employee of the city, he has to answer to Ohtaki not the people. But the Mayor has his job because of my vote. I'd like a discussion to happen with that office!

Posted by Long Time Menlo Man, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:50 pm

The city does have the best. That's why we haven't heard the real story. We probably won't. Unless the fired person publicly indemnifies the city and allows them to release the real reason for termination.

Posted by N.D., a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 13, 2013 at 7:45 am

The fired teacher's personnel file contained no reprimands or any negative job performance remarks. Not a thing. If we had the "best" they would have documented reason for her firing. If we had the "best" the City would have never expunged emails from the public record. If we had the "best", her supervisor would have never reprimanded the teacher for one unreasonable parent's complaint. If we had the "best" our teachers would not be dealing with a hostile work environment. If we had the "best" then the Community Services Director would would be responsive to the community and demonstrate leadership and transparency. If we had the "best" the City Manager would not have claimed that he completed an investigation in to the matter when he had not. We did have some of the BEST teachers ever working for the City program, but Michelle was fired and teacher Chris quit in protest. If we want to retain the best, then the City must take the necessary steps to fully investigate the failings within the Community Services department and take corrective actions.

Posted by Long Time Menlo Man, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:34 am

N.D.- Your information source is? A disgruntled, terminated employee? Do you have access to this personnel file? Common sense says there's more to the story than what this person is saying.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2013 at 11:56 am

Long Time:

The Almanac was given access to the employee file (see today's editorial). It contained nothing but a note about a prior pay raise. Wouldn't you think if this person was a problem employee there would have been something derogetory in there? There's more to this story all right and it stinks. There's a whole lot of city staff backside covering going on right now. Can you say stonewall?

Posted by N.D., a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

My source is the Almanac. What's your source "Long time menlo man"? You work for the City long time now? Menlo Voter is correct, something stinks. My common sense is telling me that anyone who posts that "The City has the Best" especially in light of the recent City scandals is attached to the stink.

Posted by Long Time Menlo Man, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm

FYI - not an employee, no friends as employees or city counsel. Can you say the same?
Posters here seems to be very emotionally connected to the issue. Interesting.

Posted by N.D., a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 13, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Emotionally connected? Yes. I do care about my children's teachers, very much so. And yes, I have connections to many people in my community. Michelle Sutton is a part of the Menlo Park Community, and her daughter was a teacher at Menlo Park Gymnastics as well. The thought that her supervisors are creating a hostile work environment for many of the teachers and treating City staff with such disregard is infuriating. So yes, you could say I am emotionally connected.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm

I've been wondering what Long Time Menlo Man's motivations are w/his unceasing comments that there's more to the story & it's the fault of Sutton. It's strange, not because his opinion differs, but because he's always stirring the pot but not adding info or real value. I came to the same conclusions as N.D., w/the same sources. It's clearly Amateur Hour at the City of Menlo Park. Even if Sutton's termination was justified, it was handled poorly. Given that & City Manager McIntyre's discussing confidential employee matters in a BAR in front of REPORTER demonstrates that staff are behaving like morons & leaving the City open to costly lawsuits.

Posted by Long Time Menlo Man, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Ok. Bad choice of words (best) on my part. I'm still wondering what the real story is? I don't believe we received the whole story. Is it possible the City council, the City Manager, the City Asst. Manager, the HR Director, the Community Services Director all know the entire story and are doing the right thing by obeying the law and remaining silent?

Posted by gym mom, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

LTMM, if you really are a long-timer and if you have been paying attention, none of this should be a surprise. It's business as usual for the city staff, and a general CYA for leadership.

I know both Karen and Michelle. Both talented women but different personalities. The comments by their colleague Chris make a lot of sense and provide as much clarity as anyone would expect. Stuff like this happens all the time in organizations, especially when you've got a program that is small and tightly knit. The question is: does your organization have viable procedures for managing these conflicts or do you let entropy do its thing? The finger points to senior management, all the way up to the city manager.

Yes, they are doing the right thing by obeying the law and not talking to the press about personnel matters. But that doesn't mean that there is more to the story than we know. And if there were other reports of Michelle's unprofessional behavior, we would have gotten a whiff of those by now. Gymnastics is a pretty public program, nowhere to hide scandal.

Posted by N.D. , a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Has the City broken their silence? Has the City Manager made any public comment about the matter? Has anyone in the City responded to the damning evidence provided by Teacher Chris regarding the unprofessional behavior by the Supervisor(s) responsible for firing Michelle? Have any other witnesses come forward to corroborate Teacher Chris' statements? Almanac News still on the case???

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm


of course no one from the city has said anything. They are legally bound not to. Even if they weren't, they would just keep their heads down knowing this tempest will pass because the electorate has the attention span of a gnat. Professional bureaucrats are professional for a reason.

Posted by gym, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm

the city has hired an outside investigator to look into the situation.

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