Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2007

Emergency management chief resigns

Paula Phillips was asked to leave by county administrator, commissioner says

February 8, 2007


Paula Phillips has resigned as the Douglas County Emergency Management director.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug confirmed the resignation Tuesday afternoon when asked by the Journal-World. He declined to discuss the circumstances of the resignation.

But County Commissioner Jere McElhaney said it was his understanding that Phillips was asked to resign by Weinaug and Assistant County Administrator Pam Madl. He said he and fellow Commissioners Bob Johnson and Charles Jones had been informed of that decision Monday during an executive session to discuss personnel matters.

"From my understanding, this was a decision made by administrative personnel, and administrative personnel had gone through a very thorough process and had come to the commission and told the commission of the decision," McElhaney said. "All three commissioners supported the staff, supported the process and supported the decision that was made."

Phillips, like all county employees, undergoes an annual evaluation and review process, McElhaney said.

Phillips couldn't be reached for comment. She was not at her home Wednesday afternoon. Jones said he was aware of Phillips' resignation but declined to comment further. Johnson did not return a phone message.

Weinaug said he asked Teri Smith to be the acting director of the department. Smith had been assistant director. Weinaug also said he asked Jim Denney, director of the Emergency Communications Department, to work with Emergency Management in a supervisory role and to start the process of "figuring out what needs to be done next."

Phillips became emergency management's assistant coordinator on Sept. 27, 1989. She was promoted to director on Nov. 30, 1991.


leftylucky 8 years, 8 months ago

Whinehog should resign! Paula did a good job. The county never needed an administrator in the first place. Hope in his review he gets asked to resign. The county commission is losing its voice to Whinehog. What are the reasons for her being asked to resign?

jeoleo93 8 years, 8 months ago

"I smell a big fat rat here. Anyone who knows Paula knows she is a strong leader with superior fiscal management abilities. For Weinaug or McElhaney to infer that money was going in and out of her office too fast----that is a big fat lie. They are only covering up the truth which is: The County Administrators and his Commish's are a bunch of namby pamby panty-waists who can't handle a strong, intelligent, dyanmic woman. So they make it look like she screwed up when the reality is THEY ARE TOO INSECURE AND WEAK to work with a woman of her stature. They just set the women's movement back 50 years with her firing. This is a travesty to our community. Our loss, her gain because in the long run she will end up obtaining a position that pays more, is less stressful, AND she won't have to deal with crap like this. Congrats to you, Paula. The good ole' boys just handed you your life back on a silver platter. Don't look back. Thanks for watching over us through the years. You are a true treasure!!!

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

Somehow I don't think this was male chauvinism run amok, if it were I am sure strong woman like Paula would not have no comment. She would be filing a sex discrimination law suit with her attorney by her side. But this does beg the question, "Why?"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

"She would be filing a sex discrimination law suit with her attorney by her side."

I don't know her, or any of the circumstances involved here, but if she is planning a lawsuit, her lawyer would have advised her to make no comments.

BrianR 8 years, 8 months ago

Overall, Paula did a teriffic job. Just going with the information being provided, this makes no sense.

indythinker 8 years, 8 months ago

I agree with everyone else before me. As far as I was aware, she was well respected for her role in the county. She did a great job and cared very much about what she did and the people she worked with. For me and at least a few others I know, this comes as a complete surprise.

redfred 8 years, 8 months ago

I've worked with Paula ever since she took the job and she has done great. It had been obvious for the last 4 or 5 years that Jeri and company had it out for her. Good luck in the future Paula. This is a loss for DGCO

Bassetlover 8 years, 8 months ago

Assuming she received a severance package after all her years of service, I'm sure receiving it was contingent on her keeping her lips zipped. Paula's downfall ultimately may be tied to the fact that she is strong, female, has a backbone, and always stood up for what was right (even if it did ruffle a few feathers). Milquetoast personalities can't handle this, whether they be male or female, and this is a very sad commentary. Her passion for preparedness, combined with her leadership skills, was a great asset to our county. Paula has a thoroughbred personality and for the hundreds of people who have known her here throughout the years, we know she will go on to bigger and better things. This firing will be the best thing that ever happened to her, but certainly not to our county in the long run. Kudos to Paula!!!! You leave with the respect and admiration of everyone who really matters. God bless.

skinny 8 years, 8 months ago

I have worked with Paula off and on for the last 18 or 19 years and have always thought she did an excellent job. If she wasn't doing a good job why couldn't have the assistant administrator or Weinaug have figured that out within the first 12 months she was employed there? My question is why after 19 years is she all of a sudden asked to leave? If in fact it was a spending issue within the department there is no reason why they couldn't have worked the issue out with Paula, especially after 19 years of employment.

Is it me or just my imagination that not too many county administrators or directors make it to retirement in Douglas County?

rhd99 8 years, 8 months ago

Weinaug stinks. What POSSIBLE issues could he have had with Paula Phillips? He & others stink because they decline to let the public know why people like Phillips resgin, IN SPITE of the fact that our taxes, OUR taxes, go to support these & other government salaries.

thoughtful 8 years, 8 months ago

I don't know Paula - never met her - but in these post 9-11 post Katrina, post Deland, Florida days her skill set is sorely needed in many major counties, in Kansas, in nearby states, and all around the country.

I suspect she will land on her feet with a better job with a better boss in the not too distant future.

Good luck Paula

ksdivakat 8 years, 8 months ago

Im sure that people who worked daily with her feel that way, maybe they fear they are next, but in all reality she was bound to get somebody killed during severe weather months. She always waited until the last minute to call the spotters out and there were times when she didnt even bother to call them out. I just hope the next person who gets in there does a better job. If it was a case of her being a powerful woman, then she sure caved to the pressure of them forcing her out! She could have stayed and fought it, ,or better yet let them fire her! If they fired her bogusly, then there could have been a lawsuit. Shes a public official and you cant just fire them willy nelly....theres more to the story!

rhd99 8 years, 8 months ago

She sure could have done the job of Mike Brown Nose who ran FEMA. Oh yeah, "Brownie you're doing a heckuva job", yeah, right! FEMA needs a new direction, & Paula Phillips can provide that direction.

Bassetlover 8 years, 8 months ago

HOGWASH Ksdivakat----Sorry, your assertions don't hold much weight & are a huge exaggeration of the true facts. Calling the spotters out is a "damned if you do/damned if you don't" scenario 100% of the time. She was in the loop about the prospects of severe weather HOURS, if not days, before anyone else. She consistenly made the right calls. No matter what call she makes in these situations, someone will always disagree. As for running FEMA, she has all the right tickets to turn that agency around, but why would she want that much stress at this point in her life?

ksdivakat 8 years, 8 months ago

bassetlover.....if she consistantly made the right calls 100% of the time ...which by the way would make her perfect, and I highly doubt that, then why did her yearly evaluation suck? And not just a bad one, but it sucked to the point that they forced her to resign! Didnt Phil Kline do this exact same thing when he took office in johnson co? And arent those 8 people fighting it because they are public servants and you cant just fire them willy nelly in ks? Well, why isnt phillips fighting it? ANd no she was not aware all the time of the weather, there were several times over the past 4 years that there were severe weather warnings in neighboring counties and dg co wasnt even activated until it was right on top of us. I never had any confidence in her and obviously the county didnt either!

dacs23 8 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps she should run for county commission

samsnewplace 8 years, 8 months ago

Paula I wish you well. I think you've done an excellent job in your long years with the County and I believe the commissioners will have some explaining to do as to this firing. Hopefully Paula this is to your advantage to move on to bigger and better things, you will be missed.

melott 8 years, 8 months ago

When I called her about not being able to hear the sirens, she wasn't interested.

Jayhawk69 8 years, 8 months ago

Melott----That was probably because you were whining about not being able to hear the sirens when you were INSIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm sure she is thrilled she doesn't have to deal with those kind of moronic calls again!

Tychoman 8 years, 8 months ago

Shadower, you don't know what you're talking about. She's done more for the county than most people who work there now.

George_Braziller 8 years, 8 months ago

I know that I will be jumped on for this because everyone seems to love Paula. BUT I've been in enough meetings, and had conversations with, enough Douglas county staff and City of Lawrence staff to know that she was viewed as a joke. Just because you've been in a job for a long time doesn't mean that you are doing a good job. I don't mean her any ill will but it was time for her to go.

Charles L Bloss Jr 8 years, 8 months ago

Let us keep in mind that our esteemed county commissionrs granted themselves and other county employees a HUGE raise right at Christmas. That was the taxpayers present! They are in no position, after screwing every taxpayer in Douglas County, to be pissing and moaning about how an employee with 19 years experience handles her department's money. I sincerely hope the taxpeyers have a long enough memory to vote every one of them out of office come next election. I sure will vote against mine. I have always thought the commissioners should be voted upon "at large" by the entire county, regardless of what district they are in. They vote on matters that affect all of us. Thank you, Lynn

rhd99 8 years, 8 months ago

Screw the politicians! If anyone deserves the BOOT here, it's the politicians, NOT Paula Phillips!

whatfredsaid 8 years, 8 months ago

ksdivakat - I hope you are the spotter that responds to a call out at 2am when you have to work the next day. If you are then there is some merit to your comment that spotters are not called out soon enough.

If you are not, then maybe you should realize that spotters are volunteers with families and lives. They put their lives on hold and make sacrifices to help keep you safe. Yes they volunteer and yes they do it because they like it. Paula never once put the county in danger by watching a storm to see if it needed the attention of county resources before deploying them.

Looking back at all of my dealings with Paula I cannot not find one bad thing to say about her. I have no idea what this whole thing could be over. If this was over money...what money? Emergency Management is probably one of the most underfunded departments in the county. How many other departments rely so heavily on volunteers to do its work because the county refuses to pay for the services that it gets? Paula made what little money she was given to work with go as far as she could make it go.

Best of luck to you Paula, I think that you did an excellent job.

rhd99 8 years, 8 months ago

Are the sirens working properly in case of tornados? Seems to me they are, unless I am missing something here. whatfredsaid is right, Phillips was right on top of a situation, like a severe storm before it hit us. The money problem here, sports fans, is with the County Politicians themselvs with their RIDICULOUS self-imposed pay raises, & not enough money to HELP departments like Phillips'. Politicians like these who run people like Paula Phillips out of town, I'd like to drop kick them in a heart beat! Politicians, SCREW yourselves!

Jayhawk69 8 years, 8 months ago

Shadower---Listening to her bosses would have compromised the level of disaster preparedness & response in this county. Yeah, she had her own agenda alright---THE RIGHT AGENDA, not one with political overtones and not one that was dictated by clueless people at the top of the food chain above her. Bravo to her for not compromising her values just to salvage her job. Thank god she didn't go along to get along. That's what made her a phenomenal leader.

Go ahead and tally up all the pro-Paula and anti-Paula threads to this discussion since the story broke. You and 2 or 3 others are overwhelmingly in the minority & your arguments are without merit. People of her caliber don't get bad reviews unless it is personal and/or there is a hidden agenda.

With all the awards and recognition this woman has received over the years, her records speaks for itself. She leaves this thankless position with her integrity intact. The County has lost alot of credibility with the way this was handled from start to finish. This is a real blemish on our community.

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