The current mayor of Portland as you may already know is Ted Wheeler. The former mayor of the city is named Sam Adams and after leaving office Adams came to work for Mayor Wheeler as the Director of Strategic Innovations. One week ago, the former mayor sent a letter to the current one announcing that he was leaving his job because of health problems:
In an email sent to Wheeler’s staff Tuesday, Adams cited health-related concerns as the reason for his departure. He said he has been struggling with chronic anemia for the past year, and the loss of energy was impacting his ability to do his job.
He wrote in the email that his condition was improving at one point, but a recent round of test results showed that it had begun to worsen again, prompting him to step down to focus on his recovery.
That seemed to be the end of the story, at least initially. But within a few days Mayor Wheeler revealed that he’d fired Adams because there had been multiple complaints about his behavior, especially from female employees. These claims were backed up with emails discussing the complaints.
Emails obtained by KOIN 6 News related to Sam Adams sudden departure from Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office allege a variety of behaviors including sexually charged conversations to accusations Adams threatened, intimidated and bullied his fellow employees…
On December 15, 2022, a female employee with the City Attorney’s Office recalled a meeting with Adams. She recounted that meeting as “one of the most unprofessional experiences that I’ve had, not just at the City, but in my career. The initial meeting left me in tears.”
When confronted with this new spin on why he left his job Adams stuck to his story about resigning for health reasons.
On Friday, Adams responded in writing to the accusations.
“I provided a quick summary of my health issues and offered to resign, which he (Mayor Wheeler) said OK. This is a knife in the back. There must be something else going on behind the scenes,” he wrote.
That denial only ensured the story would continue. Today Mayor Wheeler’s office released a statement containing a more detailed breakdown of the complaints that led to Adams’ ouster. Here’s a portion of the statement:
As an at-will employee in the Mayor’s office, a formal investigation is not necessary to determine Mr. Adam’s continued employment. While the complainants may not have wanted to get involved in formal investigations with Mr. Adams, we felt the complainants raised serious concerns. The Mayor’s office and the Bureau of Human Resources spoke to Mr. Adams about these concerns over the course of his most recent employment. By the end of 2022, the accumulation of serious concerns led the Bureau of Human Resources to recommend ending the City’s employment relationship with Mr. Adams. The Mayor received this recommendation and acted on it…
After the additional complaint regarding Mr. Adams was reported from the City Attorney’s Office in mid-December 2022, the Bureau of Human Resources (BHR) reported to the Mayor’s office the accumulation and details of the complaints during Mr. Adam’s most recent tenure with the Mayor’s office. It was at that time that BHR reported to the Mayor that there were now six female complainants and recommended ending Mr. Adam’s employment with the city.
On January 10, 2023, the Mayor demanded Mr. Adams’ resignation, which the Mayor accepted.
Of course we’ve all seen scenarios where someone “resigns” and it’s not clear if they jumped or got pushed. Sometimes you get the clear impression they had no choice but, as a final favor to them, the employer is allowing the circumstances to remain slightly vague.
But there’s no wiggle room here about the fact that the complaints drove the outcome and that Adams was pushed. And yet, for some reason, he came up with this whole story about his health problems leading to his resignation. It looks like he spread this to the media without any tacit agreement from the current mayor to remain silent about what really happened. And obviously that decision to spin his firing backfired pretty spectacularly because it only managed to draw more attention to what really happened and to the fact that his word can’t be trusted.
Here’s a local news report on the story: