Bethel City Council confirms code and policy violations

Bethel, Alaska

Bethel, Alaska (Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The Bethel City Council met Monday night in executive session for three hours with the attorney they hired to conduct an investigation into nepotism, contracts, and personnel issues.

City Manager Lee Foley was placed on administrative leave two weeks ago as a result of the investigation. His status did not change Monday, but the council came back on the record for a minute to confirm that there indeed has been improper behavior within the city.

Mayor Joe Klekjka made a statement when the council reconvened at 9:30 p.m.

“There were code and policy violations,” said Klejka.

Those were for actions related to procurement, nepotism, credit card usage, personnel policies, leave, and travel and training policies.

Klekja said the council will be taking remedial measures. He explained after adjournment that the Bethel city code is a living document.

“You’re always trying to improve, trying to have the best actions come out of it, and when you find new things to improve it you do those. Additionally, we’re going to need to put some checks and balances in place to make sure the violations that occurred don’t happen in the future,” said Klejka.

Klejka said the city may be looking to hire a human resources director or procurement officer.

The council authorized $40,000 to pay for the investigation. They specifically looked at contracts to demolish the old police station and those with former finance director Bobby Sutton, plus leases at the sandpit, among other personnel issues like intimidation of employees, among other thing.

The city is not releasing the report prepared by the law firm as they are considering it attorney-client privileged communication. Mayor Klejka said that council may be preparing a public document, but he was not certain Monday night.

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