Former City Worker Describes “Toxic Culture”

By CYNTHIA KMETT

Brian Kischnick, the now-fired Troy city manager, “should have been gone long ago,” claimed former city employee Maggie Hughes as she addressed last week’s Troy City Council meeting. She said council had been bystanders and complicit in allowing his behavior to continue after whistleblowers made complaints about the city manager’s actions.

She stated that Kischnick had created a toxic culture at city hall. Hughes added that she had worked with professional, intelligent, ethical coworkers who shouldn’t have had to endure his behavior. She claimed that the workers’ complaints fell on deaf ears and were ignored. She said his bad behavior was an open secret in the workplace and because of the toxic culture he had created, men and women avoided going near his office.

Hughes said she did what she had to do and quit her job in Troy. Hughes added that if the council was committed to healing the atmosphere Kischnick created, it was time to take action.

Several councilmembers, those who voted to let Kischnick stay in his job after complaints in 2016 – Mayor Dane Slater and councilmembers Ed Pennington, Ethan Baker and Dave Henderson – said they knew little of allegations of offensive behavior. As Pennington pointed out, they don’t spend the day at city hall. In fact, only Mayor Slater is retired. All other members go to work each morning and don’t have easy access to company gossip.

In addition, the council it seems was instructed by their attorney not to talk with those who made complaints about the manager.

The major complaints it seems go back to 2016 and revolve around Kischnick’s inappropriate use of a city vehicle when he got paid to drive his own car, a car in which he had an accident where he was at fault. Then there were some phone supplies that seemed a bit steep – about $1,000 – for use in his job. But those charges didn’t seem things that would be considered “toxic.”

Now the question for council is, release the report on all these actions or keep personnel records private. Councilman David Hamilton, who said the city was “in a crisis,” wanted to vote to release the report right that night. Most of council wanted to talk to their outside personnel lawyer about any implicates such a release might have on other personnel investigations. Council decided to go to closed session and talk about it at the next meeting. Only councilmembers Hamilton and Hodorek wanted to come back last Monday night with a decision. Stay tuned.

Alcohol Law Violators Must Train Their Employees

In other business, council handled its latest round of liquor law violations. There were only four this time, as the Community Coalition and the police have worked hard to let liquor license holders know the rules of selling and serving alcohol. Interestingly, two of the four offenders this year were gas stations, which Lansing has given permission to sell alcohol.Both stations were relatively new to the sale of alcohol.

As first-time offenders, they have to prove to the police within 90 days that all of their employees are now trained in how to sell to sober, mature alcohol buyers before the 2 a.m. cutoff time. All four were also fined by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

 

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated a Police vehicle was used in the 2016 incident when it was in fact a city fleet vehicle. We apologize for the error.