We’ve made it through two years and a month of the Strickland era in Pinehurst government. The reports coming out of the village’s halls of government evoke memories of those daytime soap operas of yesteryear.
If you haven’t been following the drama since the November election, here’s a refresher.
Now, we’re at the point of half of the village council preparing to litigate against the other half. There are questions about whether village attorney Mike Newman should even be involved in a dispute between factions of the village council.
Lydia Boesch, an attorney, businesswoman, and Pinewild resident, believes she’s been done dirty by the mayor’s faction. She’s even hired a prominent Raleigh attorney to help her make the case.
In an unusual move, village manager Jeff Sanborn has inserted himself into this quarrel between the village’s elected officials by writing this email:
From: Jeff Sanborn <Jsanborn@vopnc.org>
Date: November 30, 2021 at 7:00:25 PM EST
To: CouncilMembers <CouncilMembers@vopnc.org>
Cc: “Michael Newman (email@example.com)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Growing Disappointed and Dissatisfaction
Thank you Lydia. This tells me everything I need to know for now. This isn’t about mediation. It is about you accepting your responsibility as a leader and acting on that responsibility. Your unwillingness to do that strengthens my resolve that my understanding of what you did to me is correct.
This will impact our effectiveness as a leadership team, and is likely to have results that you are not particularly happy about. You are going to have to live with that. I have a clear conscience.
Sent from my iPad
On Nov 30, 2021, at 6:00 PM, Lydia Boesch <email@example.com> wrote:
Thanks for your email, and I apologize that it’s taken me this long to respond.
I disagree with many of the characterizations in your email. I still stand willing to engage in a pre-suit mediation, where the issues may be discussed in a protected setting. Please let me know if this is something Council should consider.
Sent from Mail for Windows
From: Jeff Sanborn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2021 2:07:14 PM
To: CouncilMembers <CouncilMembers@vopnc.org>
Cc: Michael Newman (email@example.com) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Growing Disappointed and Dissatisfaction
Nearly two months ago I was subjected to leadership actions that no subordinate should ever have to endure. One of my five superiors engaged in an active attempt to find evidence to support getting me fired at the behest of our local delegation to state government. Why did Jamie Boles and Tom McInnis want me fired? Because I have done my job; I have participated in communicating displeasure with their legislative priorities by drafting and signing letters that we sent to the entire General Assembly on two occasions. Neither of those letters were disrespectful or unprofessional in any way. I also made an email comment in the confidence of the Council suggesting that Tom McInnis and Jamie Boles have disdain for our community. More on this second point later, but each of the letters were approved and supported by the Pinehurst Village Council. Those letters did what they were intended to do, but I guess our local delegates were embarrassed by the plain truth that those letters presented.
As my superior, Lydia has an obligation to protect me from this outside meddling. Instead, she accepted the mission to try to get me fired. Furthermore, she went about it in an entirely unprofessional and inappropriate way. She arranged a clandestine meeting with one of my direct reports and, without warning, engaged him in a series of questions that made him very uncomfortable because she was putting him in between her and I. In fact, she was putting him in between Jamie Boles, Tom McInnis and I. Meanwhile, her approach created unsubstantiated and inappropriate doubt about me and my future employment among staff. Several appropriate ways for Lydia to deal with this situation existed. I will outline a few:
- Thank Jamie Boles and Tom McInnis for their input and tell them that she does often interact with staff but has not gotten any indication that staff can’t work with/for me.
- Approach John Strickland to consult with him and ultimately with the entire Council about how to proceed.
- Approach Angie Kantor and ask her advice on how to proceed.
- Approach me and ask what I think should be done to address this concern.
Instead, she independently set out to try to find the evidence that would support the results that Tom McInnis and Jamie Boles were after – my termination.
There was no real justification for the questions that Lydia was asking Glen Webb in that clandestine meeting. While I was not present for the closed session meeting that occurred in early October, I have been told by Council Members that Lydia presented no evidence to support Jamie Boles’ suggestion that she needed to start talking to staff because people can’t work with me. She also has not provided such evidence to me when asked for it.
In the meeting that John Strickland and I had with Lydia about all of this, Lydia denied that she was trying to find evidence to get me fired at the behest of Jamie Boles and Tom McInnis. If I recall correctly, the way she characterized it was something like: “if Jeff Sanborn is a 95, I want to find a way to make him a 96”. This is not credible.
It is clear that both Jamie Boles and Tom McInnis told Lydia that I “had to go”. […]
IF that is true, isn’t having a village manager that can’t get along with our legislators a bad thing that could be a detriment to Pinehurst?
[…] All of Lydia’s introductory commentary in the conversations that she had with Glen Webb and Angie Kantor are about dissatisfaction with the relationship that I have with local delegation. When you read the statements that Angie and Glen provided and consider not only what was said but the order in which it was said, it is very clear that Lydia’s motive is about those relationships. Then, she moves on to questions about the possibility that there are problems in the relationships I have with members of our staff. If I recall correctly she even suggested that I have a toxic leadership style. The only credible way that she could pursue improving relationships with our local delegation by focusing on perceived problems I might have with staff member relationships and leadership climate is by finding a way to get me fired based on what she might dig up.
In the conversations that Lydia had with Glen and Angie, she made forceful references to the fact that I had previously commented that Jamie Boles and Tom McInnis had disdain for our community. She has made similar references to fellow Council Members on at least a couple of occasions. In every case, she seemed to be suggesting that my comments, made in an email I sent only to Council Members and a couple members of senior staff, had further tarnished our relationship with Jamie Boles and Tom McInnis. […]
Isn’t Sanborn the same guy who sat quietly back in April, as now-former councilman Kevin Drum was threatened with “ethics charges” and “public rebuke” by the mayor and his allies over a dispute Drum, as a downtown business owner, had with another downtown business owner?
[…]Based on Public Records request findings, I now know that Lydia shared my ‘disdain’ comment with Tom McInnis (and I would now assume Jamie Boles as well). While Lydia has expressed a strong desire to improve these relationships, I would observe that deliberately sharing my critical comments with Tom McInnis and Jamie Boles only makes things worse.
I explained all of this background to say this. I was enormously disappointed in early October when this all started. My disappointment is only growing.
You have shattered my trust in you as a leader. You chose to try to find a way to get me fired in order to please your political friends. Yes, this is my conclusion. If I have reached the wrong conclusion, please tell me the credible alternative. To this day, you have still not publicly accepted any responsibility for what you have done to me or to Glen Webb. In a Council Meeting, you suggested that the statements that Angie Kantor and Glen Webb made were not completely truthful or accurate. To this day you have never either confirmed their statements or provided details about what you objected to. Do you not feel an obligation to eliminate perceptions among the public that their statements were not truthful or appropriately complete? Do you understand that they have these concerns? Meanwhile, you make vague and unsupported comments to the press and the public that suggest your questioning of Glen Webb was based on more than the desires of Jamie Boles and Tom McInnis. I have previously asked for any such evidence and you have not provided it or even suggested that it existed. It seems that to you, Angie, Glen and I are expendable; if need be, we can be used to support your ambitions.[…]
The village manager IS “expendable.” He can be fired by a vote of 3 out of the 5 council members.
[…]You broke this relationship and you have a leadership obligation to fix it. You are making no effort to do so. Instead, you are choosing to make matters worse. It is quite ironic that you were searching for information to support the fictional notion that there is something ‘toxic’ about my leadership style. Meanwhile, you actions as a leader have been toxic. I do not trust you. YOU did this.
THAT is an unusual way to speak to one of your bosses.
I was taken aback when I pulled up the Daily Haymaker this morning. It has been clear that you are coordinating and collaborating with Brant Clifton. […]
He called my name. Now I’m going to label his accusation FALSE.
Here are two excerpts from the recent entry on his blog:
- “Boesch’s clandestine meeting with the police chief, which led to her ethics complaint, was about looking into reported concerns about the city manager’s demeanor and management style forcing quality village employees to quit and regional and city leaders refusing to work with him and the village.”
If these concerns were reported, who reported them and what, specifically, did I do or not do?[…]
[…] I have asked you for this in the past and you have not provided anything in return. Forcing people to leave? Really? What regional leaders? Unless this is about Jamie Boles and Tom McInnis, this is entirely new. If it is about them, why not just say so? What city leaders? Again, this is entirely new. Where is Brant Clifton getting this from if it isn’t you or your laywer? If this is not coming from you, do you not feel an obligation to correct him on his characterizations of this since it misleads the public about someone who works for you?
From reading this, I would think Boesch was his employee rather than his boss. Who talks to their boss like this?
Also, there is a comment section below each post where Mr. Sanborn or anyone else can post a comment. (Stay on the subject matter of the post. No profanity or slander, please.)
2. “Many fear that manager Sanborn has sensed he has a weak mayor on his hands, and has decided to go full-blown Atilla The Hun in doing his job.”
What is the basis for this nonsense? I have never suggested that John is weak in any way. We know from public records request results that you have. Are you behind this slander? […]
It didn’t say you “said” it. The quote also does not say nor suggest Mrs. Boesch was responsible for any of that.
[…] As one of my five leaders, you have a responsibility to me to correct Mr. Clifton on this type of stuff. Of the current five Council Members, you are probably the only voice he will listen to on this subject. As I said before, my disappointment is only growing….
Okay, Jeff. You have stated that Mrs. Boesch is “the only voice I will listen to on this subject.” How do you know this? We have never met. Until this chaos erupted, I had heard nothing but good things about you from an associate you and I have in common.
Please do the right thing and stop this circus. Then, we can get to work on rebuilding trust. I am willing to be receptive, but you have to give me something to believe in.
Ah, ending this sermon with a ‘Poison’ lyric.
If you will recall, this “circus” all got started during two meetings in October when the mayor and two allies attempted to hold a live-streamed ethics tribunal against Mrs. Boesch and Mr. Drum. Reportedly — *Don’t go looking for a report, Mr. Sanborn* — neither were informed beforehand the tribunal was going to happen.