Gary Hames Relieved of Duties
The Teller has confirmed that on Thursday, April 18th, Community Development Director Gary Hames was escorted out of the building. County Manager in waiting Austin Osborne appointed Fire Marshall Martin Azevedo acting director. The locks on the building have been changed and all emails and other communications have been routed to Mr. Azevedo.
Storey County entered into an $11,354 per month contract with Battle Born Consulting Services in July of 2017. This contract started just days after his retirement as Storey County Fire Chief.
On March 18th the County agreed to indemnify the County Manager of Humboldt County. The County brought him in to make a decision on behalf of County Manager Pat Whitten. At the time, the Commission would not reveal the details of the action because it was a personnel matter. Speculation ran rampant in the community as to what this matter could be. It appears as if we may know why the County took these actions.
County Employees are on direct orders from District Attorney Anne Langer to not discuss the details of the matter. However, The Teller is in possession of evidence that suggests that Mr. Hames colluded with other county employees to raise fees charged by Community Development without the legal authority. The Storey County Commission must approve any adjustment of rates charged by Community Development and other County entities.
County Remains Mum on Details
Calls seeking further information to District Attorney Anne Langer have gone unanswered.
The actions of Mr. Hames and other County employees, if proven to be true, should result in the County refunding perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars to unsuspecting permit holders. The County continues to stonewall The Teller by not answering multiple public record requests, so don’t hold your breath while we try to get to the bottom of this and other articles we are working on. We suspect we will all have to wait for the County to dole out information as they see fit.
Readers of The Teller may remember our criticism of Storey County when Pat Whitten handed out retirement “bonuses” to Dean Haymore, Mike Nevin, and Gary Hames totaling $215,000. You may further remember our criticism of signed a no-bid contract with Gary Hames and Battle Born Consulting in June of 2018.
It is too early to tell, but this may be the first step the County has taken since forever in addressing the indifference to the rules and cronyism displayed by Pat Whitten and others. Hopefully, it is the beginning of a fight to change the disease that taints the hard work and integrity of the majority of the Storey County rank and file employees.
Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new trend in Storey County.
Public employees DO have the right to free speech. Although the rights are not as full as employees in the private workforce that are governed by the NLRB, a public employee may not be fired for speaking out on a matter of public concern. I do not believe the County DA has any legal right to order employees not to discuss this matter about Gary Hames, which certainly is a public concern. That is a violation of their federal first amendment rights to free speech. As long as they are not recklessly lying or interfering with their job, there are legal precedents that prevent employees from being discharged. So please, Storey County employees, tell us what you know. You can not be legally terminated for exercising your First Amendment rights.
See the case below for an example.
“Pickering v Board of Education considered the case of a public school teacher fired for writing a letter to a newspaper critical of the local school board. In ordering the teacher reinstated, the Court found that a public employee’s statements on a matter of public concern could not be the basis for discharge unless the statement contained knowing or reckless falsehoods, or the statements were of the sort to cause a substantial interference with the ability of the employee to continue to do his job.”
Not fired, but bullied, harassed, intimidated, passed-over, ignored, isolated.
According to dozens of people I have talked to, Gary Hames was a barely competent manager with spectacularly hideous interpersonal skills. Bully, thug, and intimidator, and punk are the words I can share and keep my site safe for children. It is amazing he had such a long run in the County. Not at all surprising, but amazing still.
Please stay on this story. I want to know they ferret out embezzling and misuse of any tax dollars.
Wow. Just wow…