The battleground that is Fort El Dorado Hills remains under a flag of truce as the warring parties try to negotiate a treaty. Tony Rogozinski of General Guy Gertsch’s Community Services District staff recommended everyone involved in the conflict lay down their weapons and cease hostilities.
Meanwhile Colonel John Skeel, currently holding the upper hand in the affair, waits patiently to hear the final details of the peace treaty.
In case anyone missed the action, Colonel Skeel was given a dishonorable discharge and ordered back to Fort Colorado, where he worked prior to the move to El Dorado Hills. It seems Skeel wasn’t the leader the CSD board believed he was after an extensive and expensive search party interviewed him for the elite position of managing the western post of El Dorado Hills CSD.
Colonel Skeel has been on paid leave since June 20 when General Gertsch and his staff accused him of conduct unbecoming an officer. In their latest salvo they declared Skeel had “serious performance issues” and had engaged in “conduct that is inconsistent with the standards of conduct required of all district employees; especially our top manager.”
Tough words coming from a board attempting to derail their general manager by planting a phony performance evaluation into his personnel file and accusing him of false charges brought on by a few disgruntled foot soldiers.
The charges indicated that Colonel Skeel asked Assistant General Manger Sandi Kukkola to initiate disciplinary action against the district’s Human Resources manager Tracy Lynn Lowry for insubordination. When Kukkola disobeyed the colonel’s orders it soon became obvious both she and Lowry were undermining the Colonel’s authority.
Skeel’s efforts at improving company morale and saving the district a substantial amount of money through reorganization was met with heavy resistance from a good ole’ boy (girl) system currently in place at Fort El Dorado Hills.
The elite on the general’s staff including Directors Noelle Mattock, Bill Vandegrift and General Guy Gertsch himself distanced themselves from the colonel when it soon became apparent everyone, including district legal counsel Bob Thurbon, wanted to muster colonel Skeel out of the service — El Dorado Hills CSD service that is.
Like most government service jobs, terminating an employee takes an Act of Congress or in this case a three-year contract — a contract worth $126,600 per year plus benefits. Colonel Skeel might not meet the standards of our local CSD board but he sure was savvy enough to secure a tidy three-year deal for himself. Or was this simply a major tactical error on the part of the General and his staff?
It didn’t take long for the local citizenry to see through what was happening. Their vocal support for Colonel Skeel and the likelihood of a very large financial settlement for breach of contract and unlawful termination has now brought us to where we are in today’s battle.
As the two sides finalize last-minute details that will ultimately put colonel Skeel back in charge everyone from the current staff, soldiers in the field and the citizen militia anxiously await the outcome.
Will the Human Resources department be outsourced to capture savings? Will the assistant general manager remain on staff or will she be demoted? And what’s to become of General Gertsch’s board when the next CSD election rolls around?
Regardless of the “make nice” comments being lobbed around like hand grenades with the safety pins engaged, there’s little doubt people will be on edge upon seeing the Colonel marching once again through the halls of the CSD headquarters at 1021 Harvard Way. Those plotting against him may be laying down their weapons now — only to use them at a more appropriate time later.
For all intent and purposes Colonel Skeel has won the battle but ultimately he’ll lose the war.
The only advice this column could offer Colonel John Skeel is to watch your back (especially around the Human Resource department), keep your bags packed and ready for redeployment, and rent — don’t buy.
Richard Esposito is publisher of Village Life. Contact him at [email protected].