Council talks Highway 99, housing commission staffing; mayor announces HR director’s resignation

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Mary Ann Hardie

The Edmonds City Council discussed a range of agenda items Tuesday night, from possible ways to staff a new Edmonds Citizens Housing Commission to options for reducing traffic accidents on Highway 99. But the breaking news came at the end of the evening, when Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling announced the resignation of Human Resources Director Mary Ann Hardie — and intimated it was due to the way she was treated by the city council during a May 7 discussion about raises for city department heads.

At that meeting, the council by a 4-3 margin voted to oppose Earling’s recommendation for a 5 percent salary increase for the city’s director-level employees.

Earling said he believed it was necessary to correct the record after a councilmember “unfairly disparaged” Hardie. The mayor pointed to councilmember accusations that Hardie had failed to perform her job duties and “had acted out of her own self-interest” by conducting research that concluded salary increases were warranted for the department directors and two assistant police chiefs.

While Earling did not name the councilmember in question, during the May 7 meeting Councilmember Diane Buckshnis suggested that Hardie’s work on the study should have been conducted by an independent party.

“I being a former regulator, when I see an HR person –which we all know what ethics and conflict of interest is — she goes and creates new steps and creates more money for herself,” Buckshnis said during the meeting.

Earling went on to say that as the director of human resources, Hardie was “expertly trained in evaluating compensation levels,” and was “only doing her job by following the council-approved policy and procedure in providing well-researched director salary information and recommendations to council for their review.”

While it is the council’s prerogative to make recommendations based on the information they receive, “to insult the city staff member who is tasked with providing that information — let alone questioning the director’s integrity — is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Earling then read an announcement from Hardie stating that she was submitting her resignation “with a heavy heart” effective June 21, 2019.

A former HR analyst for the City of Edmonds, Hardie was made interim Human Resources manager following the firing of the city’s then-Human Resources Director Debi Humann on Sept. 22, 2011 by former Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper.

Earling defeated Cooper for mayor later that year, and made Hardie permanent human resources manager in April 2012 after the council eliminated the HR director position for budgetary reasons. She was promoted to HR director in 2016 after the council reinstated the director position.

In other action, the council heard a report on — and later approved — the city’s 2020-2025 Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program. During a discussion of that plan, the council talked about options for improving the safety of the Edmonds stretch of Highway 99 — a top priority for both the council and staff. City Transportation Engineer Bertrand Haus noted that the city is considering the possibility of installing median barriers along the highway’s center-turn lane to reduce the high number of traffic collisions there. However, such work would have to be approved by the Washington State Department of Transportation, since it owns the highway. The city also is looking at proposing to the state that the Highway 99 speed limit in Edmonds be reduced from 45 mph to 40 mph. That’s the current speed for the portion of 99 running south through the City of Shoreline.

Making the two miles of Highway 99 through Edmonds a safer place for both pedestrians and drivers has been a key component of the city’s plan — approved in 2017 — to revitalize the roadway and nearby neighborhoods. But finding funding for the entire project — estimated to cost nearly $173 million — will take time and so the city is now looking at shorter-term safety improvements.

On another transportation-related matter, Haus announced that the long-awaited trackside warning system at the Dayton and Main Street railroad crossings, designed to significantly reduce train horn noise along the waterfront, should be activated on June 5. The system is installed, but the city is now waiting for BNSF railroad officials to complete their final testing.

The council also discussed options presented by Development Services Director Shane Hope for staffing the new Edmonds Citizens’ Housing Commission. Hope noted that the city has received 90-plus applications so far for the commission, with representation from across the city. The citizens group will be charged with developing housing policy options for city council consideration to expand the range of housing in Edmonds.

In looking at the commission’s workload, Hope determined that the group would need a meeting facilitator and a community engagement person. Hope presented three different options for the council to consider that could involve hiring part-time temporary staff, a consultant or a combination of those options for the work to run through 2020. There were also discussions about whether official meeting minutes should be taken or if staff notes could suffice, and also whether the meetings should be videotaped to provide greater transparency. All of those choices will involve additional costs.

Councilmembers had a mix of opinions on which options would be best, and in the end told Hope to come up with ideas that would work for both the city and the department — and bring those back to the council later with associated costs.

In other matters, the council also:

– pulled from the agenda a report on bids received for the waterfront redevelopment project. That item will appear on a future agenda instead. You can read more about the issues surrounding the project in our previous story.

– Heard the Traffic Impact Fee 2018 Annual Report

– Received a report from the Snohomish Health District on opioid overdoses.

– Set a public hearing date of July 16 for a proposed street vacation at 184th Street Southwest.

– Approved a proposal to increase the salary range for a new safety and disaster coordinator position after no qualified applicants could be found.

– Approved the appointments of Jeff Hodson and Don Hall to the Edmonds Salary Commission.

— By Teresa Wippel

18 Replies to “Council talks Highway 99, housing commission staffing; mayor announces HR director’s resignation”

  1. Sorry to see Mary Ann Hardie resigning. She is an excellent professional and our city will miss her good work and ethics. Also sorry to see city council members commenting negatively regarding our professional staff. They deserve better. Best wishes to Ms. Hardie.

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  2. You will be missed MaryAnn. Greatly missed. No one has worked harder than you to keep things headed in the right direction. You’ve been a wonderful teammate and friend. Please stay in touch when you leave Edmonds next month.

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  3. Frankly any HR worth there weight and quits because they didn’t get the raise?? Sounds like the mayor is trying to get a few digs in before he leaves. I think she obviously didn’t present a strong enough case why they need a raise. Point being “if” that was why she quit (my guess with Seattle growth) HR people are in demand, if qualified. Also, a small town is a great resume addition, and may have been a jump off position. Doesn’t matter, she is going and we will need another one. Remember younger generation only stays at most jobs 2-4 years.

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    1. Joy,
      Did you read the article? Were you at the meeting? I’ll help break this down for you so your incorrect assumptions can be corrected:
      1. She didn’t quit because she didn’t get a raise. She quit because several members of city council tried to unfairly accuse her of ethical issues when all she did was present data and facts, which is her job. Again, this was pretty apparent at former meetings – in case you missed it.
      2. What more could she have done to make her case “strong enough?” First of all, she didn’t have a personal “case” – it was the mayor’s recommendation, not hers. Again, this was all pretty clear in the previous meetings. She literally provided data from the comp cities and presented it. It’s her job to do this. Any qualified HR professional will agree with this.
      3. “A younger generation only stays at most jobs 2-4 years.” Not sure what your point is here considering Mary Ann was with the city for 14 years, as noted in the article.

      On another note, Mary Ann you will be missed. I’m sorry it came to this but it’s pretty clear why you made this decision and I don’t blame you one bit. I wouldn’t want to put up with the ridiculous politics of Diane and Adrienne either.

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    2. “if” that was why she quit (my guess with Seattle growth)”

      “If” and “guess” make poor arguments, not least when discussing someone’s career and motivation.

      I’m not clear what your first sentence says – is it a question or a statement?

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    3. So no “younger generations” should be hired into the work field? Just old folks that will retire soon….You couldn’t even read the article or follow the meeting since you accused Mary Ann for leaving due to not receiving a raise…she clearly has left for the way council has spoke in a demeaning way questioning her work ethic and character when she performed her job duty. Get outta here with your rude uneducated comments!

      You will be greatly missed Mary Ann!

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  4. Mary Ann- To say you will be sorely missed is an understatement. You’ve been a wonderful mentor over the last (nearly) two years I’ve been here and an amazing head of HR. I’ve told you this before, but I’ll say it again, I’ve never worked in such a well-run, well-organized, fully compliant HR department. This was my first thought when I started here and it still continues to amaze me what you have done and accomplished here. Not only is it well run, but you’ve managed to do so with a very minimal staff. Any future employer is lucky to have you. I wish you the very best in your future endeavors.

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  5. Mary Ann will be greatly missed in the HR department and throughout the City. I count myself lucky to have had the privilege to work under her professionalism and expertise over the last three years. The experience (and her ongoing encouragement and motivation) has helped me to grow in my own professional development for which I will always be grateful. Mary Ann has a genuine interest and caring attitude for the employees of the City, which is not always present with seasoned HR professionals and is truly refreshing. Take care Mary Ann, anyone would be extremely fortunate to add you as a member of their staff.

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  6. I don’t know Mary Ann and I certainly don’t wish her any ill will, but it sounds like she got hurt feelings and decided to leave. That’s certainly her perogative. Assuming no one asked her to leave, I don’t see how Adrianne or Diane are at fault for anything here.They were just doing their job as they see it. There are good arguments that the study should not have been done in house, or at least a neutral outside study should have been done, also, for comparison. Earning’s and HR’s sour grapes attitude about this decision is their problem, not the citizen’s.

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  7. I just want to add my endorsement to MaryAnn’s career with Edmonds. She has always exemplified professionalism and certainly does not deserve the treatment given during the recent exchange with council. She was given a directive and administered that directive to the fullest of her abilities… as she always has. I am saddened to see her leave the city but I am sure that she will be well received and successful wherever she goes. Good Luck MaryAnn, it’s been a pleasure to work with you over the years. You’ve been a great co-worker and friend!

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  8. There are a few councilmembers who “don’t know what they don’t know” and they sometimes use that lack of knowledge to harass city staff. A good example is Councilmember Fraley-Monillas’ presentation on city staff compensation. Compensation is a very complex subject and needs to be left to the experts, like Mary Ann Hardie. It seems like the disagreements between the councilmember and the HR director could have been resolved in a private meeting between the two. Now our city is loosing a very competent staff member. When qualified potential applicants for this position learn about the circumstances surrounding Mary Ann’s departure I suspect they’ll have second thoughts about working for our city. What a pity!

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  9. After watching the video it is very apparent why Ms. Hardie is leaving. The council chambers resembled a snake pit with venom flying. A new low point in council history.

    If one does not want to give the directors an increase simply vote no and leave it. Why try to make yourself look good at her expense. Embarrassing and shameful. A new low congratulations. Duly noted.

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  10. Mary Ann is an excellent HR Director and a huge asset for the City. Her departure from Edmonds is shame but understandable. This is not the first time irresponsible and insulting comments by thoughtless council persons have resulted in the loss of a Director. Attacking someone’s professional integrity in a public meeting without cause is inexcusable. The wrong person is leaving the city. Apparently the “civility training” recently given to the Council did not stick with those who need it most. Mary Ann will be an asset to any future employer. Edmonds will find it more difficult to find a quality replacement especially when taking unwarranted verbal abuse from a few arrogant ill informed Council members is part of the job description. Voters in the future need to remember this as yet another embarrassing chapter by the usual suspects.

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  11. I have a great solution to all this Kabuke Theater. Let’s ask Ms.Hardie to stay on board, as a gesture of good will, and no hard feelings, and let Mayor Dave resign in protest. Keep good help and save a little money in the process. It’s a sure win-win.

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  12. I met Mary Ann Hardie in 2015, when I was hired to fill a temporary position in the Human Resources Department. I was impressed by her endless energy, her patience as she explained unfamiliar processes to me, her attention to detail, her dedication, and her integrity. Equally impressive to me was her appreciation for my efforts – Mary Ann wants people to succeed. I learned that Mary Ann was there not just to manage personnel, but to be their advocate, as reflected in projects that she entrusted to me.

    Mary Ann, it has been my privilege and pleasure to work with you. I truly appreciate your enthusiasm and encouragement, and your friendship. While you will be greatly missed, I can only be happy for you as you move forward.

    Gayle Johnson

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  13. You will be missed Mary Ann. You have always been the consummate professional and have brought a lot of solid HR practices to Edmonds! I have been impressed by your ability to manage so much, navigate your way through all the needs of city employees, grow an incredible staff, continue to grow yourself and keep a smile on your face. I think all the city staff will miss you. I am proud to call you my colleague and friend. Good luck my friend, I will miss you.

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  14. I see the usual suspects are again beating up Council Members who don’t go lock step with the Mayor and his pals on every issue in town. Nothing against the employee, glad she found an opportunity elsewhere, and nothing against Adrienne and Diane for questioning a questionable action. Please hang in there and keep playing hardball with power. It’s like a breath of fresh air to some of us.

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