In a June 27 letter to Port of Port Angeles attorney Dave Neupert, Port Commission candidate Colleen McAleer provided a blistering account of what she called an obvious act of retaliation against her by Commissioner Paul McHugh, one of two candidates she faces in the upcoming election.
McAleer, the business development director at the Port, said McHugh's comments to local newspapers regarding the whistleblower report she filed against former Port Executive Director Jeff Robb, and the follow-up investigative report, constituted "RETALIATION."
She cited several examples of McHugh's quoted comments, including, "I think we have some issues with our senior staff as well."
McHugh did not refer to McAleer by name or job title.
She also took Neupert to task, saying, "It is my understanding that my name has already been leaked in regard to the whistle blower complaint. Since I have not approved the release of my name in the whistle blower complaint, I'm asking you directly, did you release my name to anyone?"
"As you know, I never authorized the disclosure of my name."
McAleer confirmed her identity at a candidate's debate on July 15.
Prior to her announcement she was assumed by many to be the whistleblower because the investigative report produced by Port Angeles attorney Donna Knifsend regarding the complaint stated it was filed by a Port employee who was also a candidate for the commission. The report was released by Neupert following a Public Records Act request.
McAleer also criticized Neupert for the conclusion found in the investigator's report that Robb had met the requirements of the Port's Master Policy regarding the proper notice of lease deficiencies.
"Commissioner McHugh is quoted in today's PDN article as saying, 'There has also been an investigation of a whistle-blower complaint made by a Port employee… . The Commissioners have received the report. The findings of the investigator were that it did not warrant any action on behalf to the commissioners.'"
McAleer provided an extensive argument to the contrary, and concluded by asking Neupert to "immediately clarify your basis of conclusion…"
"Alternatively, if after your review of this letter you determine your conclusion should be different, then I would like that determination in writing immediately. I also request you inform Commissioner McHugh of that revised determination.
"My second concern is that in view of the fact that we do not currently have an Executive Director, there are several issues pending that could result in liability to the Port."
She then provided an extensive list of "potential claims" against the Port for issues arising from leases held by the Port.
McHugh said he had no comment at this time regarding the charges of retaliation, but added that he believed the whistleblower investigation was revealed to the public by former Port airport and marina manager Doug Sandau: "He was the one who was quoted in the newspaper that he was interviewed by an investigator."
McHugh said he had discussed the investigator's report in the press, but added that he never released the name of the whistle blower. He further noted that his comments did not reference an individual. "Colleen provided her name," he said.
Reach Mark Couhig at email@example.com.