ILWACO, Wash. — The city attorney is hotfooting it away from City Hall after she was rebuked in a vehement email by a longtime Ilwaco councilman.
Heather Reynolds decided not to continue her contract this year after serving as the city’s lawyer for eight years. Former Mayor Mike Cassinelli said a November email from Councilman Fred Marshall was among her reasons for leaving.
“She said, ‘I don’t have to put up with this,’” Cassinelli said.
Reynolds, an Astoria lawyer who also serves as Clatsop County counsel, declined to comment on the email but said she enjoyed working with the mayor and staff at City Hall. Marshall, 78, dismissed the incident as nothing more than a “tempest in a teapot.”
“I really think this is a nit, a tiny thing that doesn’t deserve much,” the councilman and computer consultant said.
Although Marshall insists he was simply being candid about his concerns with the city attorney, when pressed, he acknowledged that some past frustrations might have affected the tone of his email. He said he doesn’t appreciate the “secretive correspondence” among the mayor and city staff about policies he’s proposed because it gives “the appearance of a cabal.”
Reynolds isn’t the first city staffer who’s had trouble with Marshall and she probably won’t be the last, Cassinelli said.
“It’s not the first email he’s sent in that same tone,” the former mayor said.
The city has a problem getting help to stick around. Marshall isn’t helping, Cassinelli said.
Reynolds commended Ilwaco staff for the way they handle business at City Hall, despite problems in their workplace.
“Their dedication, professionalism and patience with challenging individuals is outstanding,” she wrote in her December resignation letter.
Before Cassinelli stepped down as mayor at the end of his term last month, he brought up the “harassing, intimidating or bullying nature” of Marshall’s email to Reynolds. It wasn’t the first time he’d warned the city leaders about appropriate workplace behavior.
Marshall, a councilman since 2005, said he doesn’t see anything offensive about the “direct” way in which he addressed his concerns with the city attorney. His email rebuked Reynolds for sharing her opinion about his proposed policy for managing and budgeting for Ilwaco’s short-lived assets, such as pumps and generators.