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Timeline


2013

May: Deputy Sonoma County Administrator Jim Leddy takes job as Mono County administrator.

2014

December: Female employee in Leddy’s office discusses sexual harassment allegations with Mono County counsel’s office.

2015

January: Mono County supervisors get involved. Female employee placed on administrative leave.

January/February: Leddy applies for administrative job in Sonoma County, but does not get it.

March 2: Employee moved to Probation Department.

March 24: Employee interviewed by state investigator, claims harassment dating back to June 2013.

April 13: Sonoma County opens recruitment for special projects director position in Community Development Commission.

April 14: Leddy announces resignation, effective May 31. Employee files complaint of employment discrimination with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

April 16: Leddy applies for job at Community Development Commission.

April 17: Sonoma County closes recruitment for Community Development Commission position.

April 21: Sonoma County supervisors approve the new Community Development Commission position.

May 26: Leddy starts working at Community Development Commission.

June 2: Employee reaches settlement with Mono County.

July 9: Employee withdraws sexual harassment complaint; Department of Fair Employment and Housing closes investigation.


A prominent Sonoma County official was rehired by the county while he was the subject of an active state investigation into a sexual harassment complaint at his previous job, raising questions about the hiring process.

County officials say they did not know that Jim Leddy, a fixture in North Bay government and political circles for two decades, had been accused by a 29-year-old female subordinate of a wide range of inappropriate behavior during his brief tenure as Mono County administrator.

Leddy, who was hired in May to serve as a special projects director for Sonoma County’s Community Development Commission, declined to address the allegations of sexual harassment.

“It’s a personnel matter, and I’m not going to talk about it,” he said.

Neither the woman nor her attorney would comment on the allegations. In her complaint, the office manager claims Leddy engaged in harassing behavior soon after he arrived in Mono County on June 10, 2013. Before that, Leddy had worked in a number of governmental roles in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County, most recently as a deputy county administrator.

Beginning that June and continuing for what the employee said was a year and a half, the woman reported that she was regularly subjected to lewd remarks and sexually charged propositions by Leddy. The interactions included trying to guess her bra size, telling her to come to his house when his wife was away, inviting her to take a bath with him and offering to send her a picture of his genitals, according to the complaint.

The woman’s claims could not be verified by The Press Democrat, which filed a public records request in December and obtained copies of the state complaint and the settlement agreement between the woman and Mono County. Her name was redacted from the documents and is being withheld by The Press Democrat.

Leddy’s departure from Mono County was a term of the settlement, which was reached June 2 between the woman and county officials, a week after his resignation became final. Leddy announced his resignation April 14, the same day the woman filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The complaint was withdrawn after the settlement was reached, ending the state investigation.

Leddy said the timing of his resignation had nothing to do with the complaint, but was the result of a decision made by him and his family the preceding autumn.

Newspaper report

The sexual harassment allegations were first reported by The Sheet, a weekly newspaper in Mammoth Lakes. After the Nov. 27 news report about the allegations, the story quickly made the rounds among political insiders in Sonoma County, where Leddy was a Santa Rosa City Schools board member from 2001 to 2008. He ran for the state Assembly in 2004, and in 2008 became the county’s community and government affairs manager, a post that doubles as county spokesperson. By the time he left in 2013, he was a deputy county administrator.

Sonoma County officials said they learned of the events in Mono County only after reading the November report in The Sheet.

“Is that article concerning? Of course it is,” said Christina Cramer, Sonoma County’s human resources director.

But she said the county had no way of knowing about the allegations at the time of Leddy’s hiring, and a review determined proper procedures had been followed.

Timeline


2013

May: Deputy Sonoma County Administrator Jim Leddy takes job as Mono County administrator.

2014

December: Female employee in Leddy’s office discusses sexual harassment allegations with Mono County counsel’s office.

2015

January: Mono County supervisors get involved. Female employee placed on administrative leave.

January/February: Leddy applies for administrative job in Sonoma County, but does not get it.

March 2: Employee moved to Probation Department.

March 24: Employee interviewed by state investigator, claims harassment dating back to June 2013.

April 13: Sonoma County opens recruitment for special projects director position in Community Development Commission.

April 14: Leddy announces resignation, effective May 31. Employee files complaint of employment discrimination with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

April 16: Leddy applies for job at Community Development Commission.

April 17: Sonoma County closes recruitment for Community Development Commission position.

April 21: Sonoma County supervisors approve the new Community Development Commission position.

May 26: Leddy starts working at Community Development Commission.

June 2: Employee reaches settlement with Mono County.

July 9: Employee withdraws sexual harassment complaint; Department of Fair Employment and Housing closes investigation.

“We evaluated the hiring process and are comfortable that the (Community Development Commission) did appropriate due diligence in hiring Mr. Leddy,” Cramer said.

Leddy said he was prevented from telling Sonoma County officials about the complaint during the hiring process.

“It was a confidential personnel matter, so it wouldn’t have been appropriate for them to know about it,” he said.

Others, including Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, have expressed concerns with the process that led to Leddy’s hiring.

The job posting that Leddy applied for was one of two similar positions open for just five days in April. The recruitment period began April 13 and Leddy announced his resignation April 14 — the same day the woman filed a complaint with the state detailing the sexual harassment allegations. Two days later, Leddy applied for the Sonoma County job, and the recruitment was closed April 17.

A total of 16 people applied for the two jobs. Leddy was later interviewed and hired in May by CDC Executive Director Kathleen Kane, who said Leddy was the most qualified candidate.

Zane said she has not formed an opinion about the allegations against Leddy, but said the way he appears to have “walked into” his new job has surprised and disappointed her.

“I’m really unhappy about these circumstances and I’m shocked to hear that it was a five-day recruitment,” Zane said.

Path to Mono County

The workplace complaint and recent scrutiny of Leddy’s time in Mono County government follow a long climb up the ranks of public service for the Sonoma County native.

Now 47, Leddy grew up in Monte Rio and studied at Santa Rosa Junior College before receiving an undergraduate degree in sociology from UC Davis in 1992.

From 1993 to 1998 he was a field representative for then-state Sen. Mike Thompson before moving on to serve as district director for then-state Sen. Wes Chesbro from 1998 to 2006.

Friends and co-workers say his 13 years immersed in Sacramento politics were formative for Leddy. It is where he established a firm foundation in public policy, honed his keen political instincts and developed a jocular and often-brash sense of humor.

While on the Santa Rosa school board, Leddy landed a position as the executive director of the Napa County Planning and Transportation Agency, which he led from 2006 to 2008. After his effort to get a transportation tax passed was unsuccessful, he returned to Sonoma County to take the position of community and government affairs manager at the county. He was making about $155,000 when he left in mid-2013 for the Mono County job, which paid $160,000.

He framed the move as a chance for him to get experience working in a greater leadership role at a county, as well as an adventure for his family, living on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. He moved to Mono County, where his family joined him a year later after his sons finished elementary school, he said.

Allegations detailed

When Leddy first arrived, the woman who later filed the complaint was not yet the manager of the County Administrator’s Office. Initially she was a fiscal technician making $38,520 per year. Leddy would promote her to office manager 16 months later, resulting in a $16,000 raise.

During nearly that entire period, the woman would later claim, Leddy regularly sexually harassed, annoyed and intimidated her.

Her claims, laid out in an interview with an investigator for the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, are striking not only for their detail, but also for how early the alleged behavior began and how frequent the alleged comments became.

The woman said that before his first month running Mono County had ended, Leddy had come up behind her while she was working at her desk, tugged on her right shirt collar, looked down her shirt, and asked if she was wearing a bra. Another time, she said he “tried to guess my bra size.” He also allegedly told her she “looked like a blonde on the strip at Vegas.”

She said Leddy also propositioned her. She said he once told her he was heading to a pool for a threesome and asked if she wanted to come. Another time he allegedly asked her to come to his house to take a bath with him “because his bathtub was really big — big enough for two.” She also claimed he once offered to send her a picture of his penis.

In many cases, the comments or incidents were allegedly made just a single time. For example, she claimed that once while he was writing a check to reimburse her for donuts and coffee she got for a meeting, “he told me that he wanted to write ‘for sex’ on the check.”

Other comments, however, allegedly were made more regularly. The woman claimed that he said she “screwed up on things because (she) was a dumb blonde” five or six times; threatened five times to cut the Sheriff’s Department budget so her fiance would lose his job; and that he talked almost daily about her going to a hot springs in Bishop.

Felt ‘in trouble’

In several cases, the woman described Leddy as controlling. Once she said she “got in trouble” after she went to lunch with a lesbian he didn’t approve of and he and a friend “showed up at lunch and watched me.”

Another time, she claimed, he suggested that she get a babysitter and drive over to his house one weekend. She said she declined the suggestion, then felt she was “in trouble the next week at work.” She also reported that he “wasn’t happy” when she got engaged and was “upset” once when he “thought I had left (the office) without saying goodbye to him.”

Friends and colleagues of Leddy who have read the allegations said some seem like they may be little more than awkward and inappropriate attempts at humor. Other claims, like the alleged propositions, strike them as more concerning.

Still others from the complaint, however, such as the woman’s claim that Leddy talked about the ability to have people killed, struck them as outlandish. None of the sources would discuss the matter publicly because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Getting help

When the state investigator asked the woman if she had ever complained about the alleged behavior, she said she had asked Leddy to stop, but that she “didn’t know who to complain to without getting in trouble.” That’s because at one point, Leddy also was the acting head of human resources, the division that would normally handle such matters.

When she reached out to the County Counsel’s Office for help, the woman said her concerns initially were downplayed by a male member of the office she spoke with between October and December 2014.

“They didn’t listen to me,” she told the investigator. “(They said it) didn’t sound like sexual harassment but rather (a) bad boss or personality conflict.”

Redactions from the state documents make it unclear whom she spoke with and the precise sequence of events, but it appears that, on the verge of quitting, she found a female staff member who helped her move forward with a formal complaint.

Mono County Counsel Marshall Rudolph denied this, saying the woman initially met with male and female members of his staff.

“And they did listen to her,” he said. “She did not get a different treatment or message from male versus female employees in my office.”

Rudolph cautioned against relying solely on the state complaint, including the investigator’s interview notes. “What you have is one side of a story,” he said.

Eventually, according to the complaint, a meeting was set up in January 2015 with two members of the Board of Supervisors, who the woman said “seemed very concerned about me.”

Used up leave

The woman initially took sick time to deal with mounting stress, according to the complaint. But having worked for the county only since January 2013, she quickly used up her accumulated leave as county officials sought to address the situation.

The County Counsel’s Office placed her on administrative leave in February 2015. On March 2, she was moved to a temporary position in the Probation Department, where she still works.

A settlement agreement reached days after Leddy left made it clear that his resignation was a requirement for her to withdraw the complaint and agree not to sue the county. The agreement between the woman and Mono County bars it from rehiring Leddy for as long as she works there.

As part of the settlement, the county also appointed her to a new managerial position in the Probation Department at the same salary range as her previous job.

She received just shy of $4,000 to cover attorney’s fees, and was credited for the 41 days’ worth of sick, vacation, holiday and compensatory time she took before being placed on administrative leave.

Mono County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tim Fesko did not return calls seeking comment. Leddy’s own resignation agreement has a confidentiality clause and a requirement that he not “investigate, disparage, or defame” any county official or employee, or risk being required to reimburse the county for his final two payments of $38,858 each.

Back to Sonoma County

In interviews late last month, Leddy insisted there was “no connection” between his voluntary departure and the complaint. He said he and his family had made the decision in the fall that they would leave at the end of his two-year contract and he had been actively looking for jobs in the Bay Area, including two different positions in Santa Rosa.

Leddy called then-Assistant County Administrator Chris Thomas in late January or early February to inquire about a different position, which he applied for and did not get, said Cramer, the Sonoma County personnel director. She declined to provide details of that job, citing the confidential hiring process.

Thomas, who recently retired, did not return calls for comment. But such job-seeking inquiries by former employees are not uncommon, Cramer said, given that some employees have the right to be considered for jobs that open up in their classifications within two years after leaving the county, a benefit known as “free name.”

Sometime in early March, discussions began about creating two new special project director positions, one of which was in the Community Development Commission. The position now occupied by Leddy was created after consultations between the County Administrator’s Office and the CDC in an effort to move several important initiatives forward, Cramer said.

Kane, the CDC director, “was crying for resources, basically, to help her do some of this work,” Cramer said. The slate of projects include the county’s moves to address homelessness, advance the Roseland Village project and launch a feasibility study for a Monte Rio wastewater project, Kane said.

Leddy’s name didn’t come up until later in the process, Kane said.

The rapid job recruitment resulted in a large enough applicant pool, and “with all due respect to Supervisor Zane,” shorter recruitments for positions such as Leddy’s are common because of the large number of applicants the county receives, Cramer said.

Good references

Leddy’s application was scored highly by an evaluation panel and his references in Sonoma and Mono spoke highly of his work, Cramer said. Leddy said he gave as references three Mono County supervisors and Rudolph, the county counsel.

Those references indicated that Leddy left Mono County “in good standing,” Cramer said.

Rudolph said he never was contacted by Sonoma County officials. He said he did not know how the interviews with other Mono County references went, but said it wouldn’t be wrong or misleading for people to give Leddy a positive reference even if they were aware of the allegations.

“It’s entirely possible that he did a great job notwithstanding,” Rudolph said. “It’s not a lie for people to say good things about him.”

In Sonoma County, Cramer noted that Leddy is an at-will employee who manages only a handful of people. He is paid an annual salary of $130,842. There have been no complaints about Leddy since his return, including any involving inappropriate workplace behavior, Cramer said.

“We have zero tolerance for sexual harassment or any discrimination,” she said. “If anything were to come up, we’re going to take that seriously and handle the matter appropriately.”

Asked if she would have liked to have known about the complaint before Leddy was hired, Cramer said “You’d have to get an attorney to figure out how it could be done.”

When he applied for the CDC job, he was asked a question meant to ferret out whether there were any performance issues. That question was: “Have you been discharged, released during a probationary period, or been requested to resign under unfavorable circumstances from any employment within the last 10 years?”

Leddy said he answered “no” to the question. He said that he was not requested to resign, but did so of his own accord and in good standing. He said he resigned six weeks before the end of his contract and before he had another job in order to give Mono County enough time to find his replacement.

In announcing his departure, Leddy said in a statement that it had been “an honor” to work for the people of Mono County and an “extraordinary experience which my family and I will remember with fondness.”

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @srcitybeat.