Feature Photos

CSD board fires John Skeel

By From page A1 | December 9, 2011

John Skeel received the news that he had been fired Thursday night. File photo

On Friday morning John Skeel tried to describe his reaction to the news that he’d been fired the night before. “I was stunned … It’s still sinking in … I wasn’t expecting this … I’m very disappointed.”

Following the public portion of the Dec. 8 El Dorado Hills Community Services District Board of Directors meeting, Director Noelle Mattock, absent to that point, joined the other four directors and district legal counsel Lindsey Moore in closed session, emerging 30 minutes later to announce that they voted 4-1 to fire Skeel, according to Interim General Manager Sandi Kukkola.

Director Billy Vandegrift was the lone dissenting voice. Vandegrift broke ranks with his board last week, stating that he was ready to reinstate Skeel. On Friday he explained his vote as a lack of confidence in the strength of the charges against Skeel. “We had to get it done one way or another,” said Vandegrift. “It’s gone on too long.”

The decision comes as the directors face increasingly loud criticism that they’ve been sitting on the promised reinstatement of their general manager too long. It’s been 13 weeks since they announced Skeel would be allowed to return to work pending agreement on a “remediation plan.”

The board met in closed session weekly from September through November trying to agree on a remediation plan for Skeel.

The GM was placed on paid leave June 20 for what the directors said was a lack of knowledge of various district policies and functions, lack of participation in community activities, not engaging and eliciting cooperation with other agencies, not understanding the budget process, not attending committee meetings and failure to maintain open, effective working relationships with the board and senior staff.

Director Wayne Lowery said discussions began to break down in late October after the board recieved Skeel’s most recent draft remediation plan, which Lowery called “disappointing.”

“It was pretty clear that our expectations and his didn’t align,” he said.

Reached at home on Friday morning, Skeel struggled to retain his composure as he recalled the phone call late Thursday night that informed him he’d been fired.

“There was no explanation,” he said.” “It was so cold. Guy just said, ‘We’re terminating your contract.’”

Skeel confirmed that he’s had just three meetings with the board since the reinstatement was announced Sept. 2, the last on Oct. 23. “Even though I was frustrated it was taking so long, it seemed like things were moving in a positive direction,” he said.

Many in the public assumed that a flurry of phone negotiations and iterations of e-mailed goals and objectives were flowing between the parties through November, but Skeel said the remediation document wasn’t discussed or negotiated in that time.

“Early on I received a packet from [CSD legal counsel] Bob Thurbon telling me to put a plan together, and I did that, we met, and I was asked to make some modifications to it and we met a second time and then they asked me to do something completely different. I did that, and that was the last time we met. There’s been no back and forth, no feedback, no nothing,” he said.

Asked if he plans to file a lawsuit, Skeel briefly lost his composure. “I have to. I have no choice. I’ve got a family to support. The board has forced me to do this.

“I wanted to work with them,” he continued. “I was trying to help them make this right.”

The incident has done irreparable damage to his career, he said. “My future prospects are bleak.”

Skeel said he’s interviewed for other positions over the last couple of months, “in case this happened,” but questions always arose about goings on in El Dorado Hills.

What’s next for the Skeel, his wife Paula and their two school-age children? “We’ll be here for a while,” he said. “We just renewed our lease. I’m hoping to find something else in the area. Failing that … I don’t know.”

Skeel thanked the public for all their support. “People who don’t even know me or my family have voiced their opinion and tried to get the board to return me to work. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.

“There are still things that need to be fixed in the district,” he added. “I hope the community continues to be engaged, advocating for the employees and the district itself.”

On Saturday morning the district released a formal statement explaining the firing:

“The termination of Skeel follows private meetings over the past several months between both parties to develop a remediation plan designed to give the board reasonable assurance Skeel would overcome certain performance issues and return to his duties. Efforts to jointly develop such a plan were unsuccessful.”

The press release states that board members made a “strong and genuine effort to address and resolve performance issues” with Skeel, and quotes Gertsch: “We gave it our best shot but, ultimately, it became clear achieving a workable solution was not obtainable. Now we must look forward and ensure the search for a new general manager and any other actions during this time of transition serve the best interests of our fellow residents and employees.”

It concludes by stating, “The board will now turn its focus and full attention to the district’s interim management issues, while strategically planning for and engaging in a comprehensive search for a new general manager to lead the district.”

Mike Roberts

Discussion | 12 comments

  • Buzz P.December 09, 2011 - 10:14 am

    The CSD has been brought to its knees by a couple of individuals. What the fascination is by the board over these troublemakers is indeed puzzling. I'm particularly disappointed in Wayne Lowery whom I voted for in the last election because I truly believed that, after his "dismissal" from the GM position, he would ensure fairness and sanity was brought to the board. Rumors have long been around that the two individuals responsible in great part for Mr. Skeel's woes were also responsible for Lowery's dismissal. How stupid can one man be? What's the story, Wayne? Dirty pictures? Past indiscretions? Cowardice? How can you let something like this happen? Shame on you! I can now see the need for the beard -- little tough to look into that mirror in the mornings, huh? The nastiness of this group is appalling! Waiting until a couple of weeks before Christmas to pull this off tells me a lot. What a sorry, sorry group! Enjoy your "victory" while you can. I predict two members of your board will be dim footnotes in CSD history by this time next year. I will pledge funds and time to aid in their ouster.

  • Concerned EDH CitizenDecember 09, 2011 - 12:44 pm

    Wow! It took this long to come to this? I hope the state sunshine laws will allow the public to see what brought things here. At a time when tax dollars are stretched to the breaking point, the Board must have some compelling reasoning to commit our money to paid leave and litigation. From the meetings I've attended, I've not seen nor heard it. I hope there is a public statement today beyond what Billy V. has put forth and I hope our local media, thinly staffed as it is, can dig into this for us. As a community that only grows by attracting new residents and businesses, the disfunction this board has demonstrated throughout this process surely will give Bay Area folks pause when considering a move to our otherwise exceptional community. Happy holidays!

  • DisgustedDecember 09, 2011 - 1:05 pm

    Buzz P: I'm with you. Disgusting behavior from the board - and to do it a few weeks before Xmas. Cowards and mean-spirited people!! I feel badly for Mr. Skeel's children. So much for EDH being such a "family-oriented" community.

  • Helpful FriendDecember 10, 2011 - 7:51 am

    Since Board members (Guy Gertsch, Wayne Lowry, Noelle Mattokc, and Tony Rogozinski are so grossly incompetent, I as an El Dorado Hills taxpayer decided to offer my assistance. I am asking that each Board Member listed above prepare the following letter for email to [email protected] by copying the letter into their email, then insertingg their name (where appropriate) and hitting the send button. "Dear El Dorado Hills Residents, I, __________________________, (insert your name), sincerely apologize to: my constituents, the Skeel family, and the EDH CSD employees for my cowardice, my lies, my out of control ego, my mishandling of district funds, and my overall inability to serve this community. I am ashamed of my actions and what I have done to this innocent and honorable man, John Skeel. Therefore, I would like to formally announce my resigation from this board effective immediately. I am also asking that the CSD management team that is in place, resign with us in order to help the CSD get to higher moral ground."

  • Stop the Lies!!!!December 10, 2011 - 12:08 pm

    I love it helpful friend. That would make the CSD such a better place. Nothing will change at the CSD as long as Tracey Lynn Lowry is still employed there. She still works for the Cameron Park CSD and has been involved in some of their mess as well including the hiring and firing of their GM. CSD Board - please don't let Mrs Lowry participate in the search for a new GM. She obviously is in way over her head and has no idea what she is doing. She is just a bully that does the dirty work for the board. And please CSD board stop lying. 3 meetings with Skeel over a several month period is not "A strong and genuine effort". You better pay Skeel the million dollars now because if this goes to court your weak case will cost you even more. Every employee and community member will line up to testify in Skeel's defense. You could have been honorable and just agreed you weren't on the same page a negotiated a fair settlement. But you chose to slander an honest man and protect the dishonest people that created this mess. How do you sleep at night?

  • This Must Stop NowDecember 10, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    Will the person who manipulated the Board into doing this awful, shameful thing now be satisfied? Is the reign of terror at the CSD over? Not in my opinion. Even before John Skeel arrived at the CSD, wasn't this individual, in league with her boss, already clearing away obstacles to the top by causing the termination of the former General Manager and the departure by various means of good employees who might otherwise get in the way? And now, hasn't this person brought about the firing of a second General Manager and the ruination of four Board members' political careers, all at once? So who's left to be the next victim? Who else stands between this person and the ultimate goal? If I were the Interim General Manager, I'd be concerned.

  • The cancer is still thereDecember 10, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    I would think the list of interested candidates for the open GM job will be rather small. As long as Tracey Lynn Lowry is still there nothing will change in the CSD and it will be impossible for any GM to succeed in that job. Why was blatant insubordination by the HR rep tolerated by the board? Where do they get their information about what really goes on at the CSD? Why do they protect that woman despite overwhelming support of Skeel by the community and CSD employees? Why does the CSD need a full time HR director for 31 full time employees? Remember this all started when John Skeel suggested outsourcing the HR position. Everything else the board came up with about Skeel came after this which explains why it took so long to fire him. They had nothing on him except some false whistle blower charges fabricated by the HR rep to save her job after she was tipped off about the outsourcing of her job by the board's legal counsel. I hope the truth comes out about what really is going on at the CSD. This has little to do with Skeel. I just hope the lawsuits don't cripple the CSD before the truth comes out and the cancer is removed.

  • The truthDecember 10, 2011 - 8:49 pm

    If you want the truth read this document. The problem isn't John Skeel. http://www.mtdemocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Response-to-Cause-Allegations-REDACTED.pdf

  • Holy Smokes!December 12, 2011 - 12:38 pm

    After reading this link, the Board really has to go - as well as the HR witch. This is ridiculous!!!

  • Rec LeaderDecember 12, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    He was fired because he knew the truth behind the corrupt board of directors. They hire their friends and family who are not qualified over hundreds of applicants that are overly qualified for positions. I think the community should band together and stop letting the board waste EDH money for their own monetary gains. What did he do to deserve termination? You will find that answer when you ask the board how many of there family they hired and promoted.

  • sarcasticDecember 13, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    So the incompetents fired the competent. Why am I not surprised.....they are big fish in a small pond.

  • Kim ItemDecember 14, 2011 - 10:28 am

    To John Skeel and Family, All~ “May the Peace that surpasses All understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus” & May you and your family and So many here in El Dorado Hills and beyond heal from this conflict of pain and hurt & May forgiveness help you All to go on I pray to bigger and better as many I See, I Feel are praying for you & your family as your hearts and lives pick up the broken pieces from being blindsided and rejected even as we remember that through man’s rejection comes God’s projection and HIS best for us as we all know that “All things will work together for good to those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose.” Merry Christmas to You, All~ Kim @ KimItemMinistries.org



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