Thursday, October 06, 2011
Question Thy Masters Not
An Indian Wells banker and executive, Haddon Libby was accustomed to asking questions and getting answers.
Trying to stay within a three-minute time limit, he began firing off financial questions at an Aug. 4 City Council meeting. He expected answers about council perks and compensation — specifically the city manager's pension.
But he wasn't prepared for what he got — phone calls and emails to his boss from the city's top leader. Then he was fired.
Indian Wells City Manager Greg Johnson attempted to silence the dissent after Libby followed up with a written public information request to the city, documents obtained by The Desert Sun show.
There were at least four email exchanges between Johnson and Libby's boss, Scott F. Kavanaugh, CEO of First Foundation Inc., on separate occasions between Aug. 9 and Sept. 7. The exchanges escalated, becoming increasingly aggressive.
That includes an initial email Aug. 9 from Johnson to Kavanaugh requesting a public apology from Libby, saying: “As a representative of First Foundation Bank, Mr. Libby will be held accountable for his comments now and into the future.”
On Sept. 8, Libby said he was fired from his job. He contends it was because Johnson dragged his employer into the fray.
“I've never done anything, but ask questions,” Libby, 49, and former senior vice president and director of the bank's desert region, said. “The bank made it clear that I was on thin ice.
“I think people should be afraid when you have people that operate like this. They work for us. We don't work for them.”
Kavanaugh declined to comment on Libby's dismissal, calling it a personnel matter. He referred questions to Lisa Carlson in the bank's human resources department. She did not return multiple phone calls Tuesday.
But Kavanuagh did say that in his more than 20 years in the banking industry, he has never been contacted by a city official regarding an employee's comments during a public meeting.
Johnson “did call me out of the blue and wanted to inform me of this, but short of that I don't have anything further to say,” Kavanaugh said Monday. He said he spoke to Johnson twice by phone.
Read the rest of Nicole C. Brambila's report at The Desert Sun.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was unavailable for comment.