After no-confidence vote, Alderwood water district manager to retire

Flooded with complaints, the district’s board has placed General Manager Dick McKinley on paid leave.

Dick McKinley (Alderwood Water & Wastewater District)

Dick McKinley (Alderwood Water & Wastewater District)

LYNNWOOD — The embattled executive of a local water district will retire next month.

Dick McKinley, general manager of Alderwood Water and Wastewater District, was put on administrative leave “for undisclosed reasons” earlier this week by the district’s board of directors, according to a staff union representative.

McKinley will remain on leave until his retirement, effective Nov. 6, the district’s attorney Joe Bennett said in an email to The Daily Herald at 5 p.m. Friday.

The news comes two days after members of the union, AFSCME Local 1811-A,voted no-confidence in McKinley, citing his “utter disregard for the day to day well being of staff.”

“Morale is at an all-time low and poor treatment coupled with uncompetitive wages have driven employee(s) away in amazing numbers,” the bargaining unit told the board in a letter.

Of Alderwood’s roughly 160 employees, about half are represented by the bargaining unit.

The no-confidence vote was unanimous, according to the letter.

“Because of these failures of leadership, we believe that the best course of action for the District is to find a new General Manager and find one that will be equipped to repair the damage caused in such a short time,” says the letter, signed by union staff representative Roger Moller of the Washington State Council of County and City Employees.

McKinley could not be reached for comment on Friday. He previously said he could not publicly respond to the complaints.

The union’s indictment is the latest sign of employees’ dissatisfaction with McKinley, who headed the district for about two years.

Alderwood serves more than 200,000 people in south Everett and other jurisdictions, with headquarters in Lynnwood. It’s the state’s largest special district to provide water and sewer services.

Since February, multiple investigations into employee complaints have found McKinley made disparaging remarks about staff members while other employees were in earshot, in violation of the district’s ethics code, The Daily Herald previously reported.

Frustrated by a lack of action from the board, several staff members have confronted the board about the problems during its public meetings.

The exodus of employees has included longtime staff members as well as the human resources manager, who complained that she faced retaliation from the general manager for cooperating in the misconduct investigations.

The board has told The Herald that it’s listening to staff concerns but has declined to comment on the specifics of the complaints against the general manager.

“The Board of Commissioners will not comment publicly on a personnel matter involving any District employee, including the General Manager,” Board President Paul McIntyre said last month in a written statement. “The Board of Commissioners values all employees and welcomes their concerns and suggestions about how the District can improve and better serve its customers.”

Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; rriley@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.

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