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CenCom deputy director suspended for Web blog

In the midst of negotiations about a new contract for Kitsap County’s emergency workers, a key member of the management team has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of a conduct investigation.

Dave Magnanet, 40, a 17-year CenCom veteran who has served as deputy director since 1998, was relieved of duties Wednesday after complaints about the content of material he wrote on the Internet.

“People are relieved,” said union head Lisa Thorson after her Wednesday/Thursday shift. “After reading what Dave had written, they were fearful. They didn’t know what he was capable of. Maybe now we can get on with the negotiations and have some success toward a new contract. I don’t know who they will put at the table, but if Dave’s not there it will be easier to negotiate.”

Thorson said she discovered the material during a random on-line search about Magnanet, after feeling frustrated by a breakdown in negotiations (related story, page A6). She captured the information, fearing it would be deleted, and e-mailed it to county, city and police officials throughout Kitsap.

As of Wednesday the material was unavailable, as Magnanet had turned off access for the general public.

“I want to deal with the real issues and not other distractions,” he said prior to the board’s decision. “These writings were my own, with opinions, fictions, bad poetry, creative writing and humor. It is a pity to have that stuff taken out of context and have my personal writings dragged into the negotiations. I hope this doesn’t detract from what is most important, finding a fair, equitable and wise contract for our workers.

“I will put my record of leadership against anyone else’s,” he continued. “The only thing that matters is how I treat them at the negotiating table.”

The material was part of a weblog, or “blog,” under the heading of “Ineptia Vitae.” Like many such pages, Magnanet’s blog contained highly opinionated personal observations, including references to politics, movies and his own sex life.

However lurid, these observations fall under the category of freedom of expression. However, certain passages captured the attention of the board of commissioners, which took its action at a Wednesday executive session.

The most controversial post occurred on Oct. 30. It read, in part:

“Disappointed in my co-workers, some of whom appear to be nothing more than self-indulgent, greedy bastards willing to lie cheat and steal to get ahead. People with no sense of personal responsibility, unwilling to accept the consequences of their actions and decisions. How else to explain this act of extortion they’re perpetrating?

“Today I learned that people I’ve trusted, people I’ve admired as good, honest people, are in fact as greedy and base as the next bastard. Today I learned that the ideals of public service, healing others, and accepting the ramifications of ones’ own decisions are foreign concepts to my co-workers. Today I learned that any moral fiber, any sense of right or wrong, has been extricated by the battlecry ‘Management is the enemy!’ and ‘Get what you can! Get what you can! Too much is not enough!’ I have not been this disenchanted with my chosen profession ever before.”

When this statement was read back to him, Magnanet said, “That was my reaction to a particularly disappointing session. I probably should have kept that private.”

Other portions of the page featured a news story headlined “Finally Alone, Magnenats Have Marital Relations“ and a facetious “debate” between George Bush’s and John Kerry’s sexual organs.

While the postings were attributed to from “davemagnus,” readers could refer to a user link that mentioned Magnanet’s real name, location and age.

As of Thursday morning there was no official notification about Magnanet’s suspension to CenCom personnel, something Thorson found unusual.

“In the past, there has been a memo saying what we should do if the person shows up and tries to come inside,” she said.

Thorson did not send the mailing to her own management but they saw it soon enough. Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel forwarded the message to CenCom director Ron McAffee, who declined to comment about the situation since it had become “a personnel matter.”

North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen wrote Thorson directly, saying, “I find myself saying ‘I’m sorry’ a lot these days. I really am sorry that this negotiating session has caused so much pain and heartache. You folks at CenCom do such great work and we do appreciate it. I wish I could say more and I hope we can reach a settlement very soon.”

Thorson said she got a boost from Endresen’s message but added, “The board of commissioners really has to pony up to this. They are the ones in charge. But it looks like they are doing the right thing.”

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