Web site flap costs CenCom assistant director his job

CenCom’s embattled assistant director resigned last week after the Kitsap County commissioners requested he relinquish his post.

Dave Magnenat, 40, was placed on administrative leave Nov. 24 when the board became aware of the contents of his personal weblog.

In these dispatches, he sharply criticized union officials, calling them, among other things, greedy.

Magnenat, who was leading negotiations with CenCom’s union, first came under fire when union president Lisa Thorsen brought the contents of his weblog to the attention of the public. At that time, Thorsen said it would be hard to continue negotiating with Magnanet.

As it turned out, the ratified contract was based on an offer presented while Magnenat was still at the table.

“These writings were my own,” he said before his suspension, “with opinions, fictions, bad poetry, creative writing and humor. It’s a pity to have that stuff taken out of context and have my personal writings dragged into the negotiations.”

But the commissioners felt these private expressions could not be ignored. Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent said Magnenat’s actions made it difficult for him to do his job.

“We hold our employees to the highest standard of behavior,” she said. “If your employees lose respect for you, or if you create a situation that’s not conducive to work, then something needs to be done.”

While acknowledging Magnenat’s error in judgment, Lent called him “extremely talented, with the ability to go places in another venue. He has the option to go places and excel — but not here.”

Lent said Magnenat had the option to approach the board directly to plead his case, but did not do so.

“He could have come to the board at any time,” she said. “But he chose to move on.”

CenCom director Ron McAffee refused to comment on most aspects of the Magnenat situation, saying, “It is a personnel matter.”

However, he offered a capsule evaluation of Magenenat’s 17-year tenure at CenCom.

“Dave was an outstanding deputy director and an outstanding employee,” he said. “It’s unfortunate all this had to happen.”

CenCom training manager Richard Kirton will become assistant director until a permanent replacement is selected.

“I’m pleased that it’s over,” Thorsen said. “And I’m pleased that Dave’s gone. He did the right thing, and the mood at work has improved tremendously.”

However, Thorsen said she was “disappointed” Magnenat has blamed her for making the weblogs public, rather than taking responsibility for his words in the first place.

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