Library interim director chosen in Port Townsend; investigation results announced
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Keith Darrock and Teresa Percy are shown in 2010 previewing the Port Townsend Library website prior to its official launch. A complaint from Darrock about Percy’s alleged lobbying for the Aug. 6 bond issue led to her retirement. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — An interim director for the Port Townsend Library will begin work Monday, and the city has released details about the complaint against former director Theresa Percy that led to her retirement.

Beverly Shelton, who served as Port Townsend library director from 1976 to 1991, was selected by City Manager David Timmons and will serve in the position until a permanent director is recruited.

Percy was placed on administrative leave June 19 and announced her retirement July 3, to take effect in September.

The action was in response to an independent investigation of a complaint that she advocated passage of a $3 million bond issue, which is on the Aug. 6 primary ballot, while on city time.

City employees are forbidden from campaigning on city time.

“Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to many and believe that Bev is the best suited to move forward,” Timmons said in a statement.

“She has always held a special place for the institution and also clearly understands the separation of the campaign from the operations of the library.”

Shelton said she is looking forward to “joining the talented and dedicated staff as we keep the library moving ahead.”

Ballots for the Aug. 6 election will be mailed out today.

The proposed bond issue, Proposition 1, would pay for renovation and expansion of the Carnegie Library portion of the complex at 1220 Lawrence St. Passage will require a supermajority of 60 percent plus one vote.

The estimated cost would be 14 cents per $1,000 assessed value, or $28 per year for the owner of a $200,000 home.

Timmons said that Shelton will help with the day-to-day operations of the library while waiting for the results of the election, and devleop a strategy after results are known.

“Regardless of the outcome, it will be a difficult and challenging future for the city and its library,” Timmons said. “Much is at stake and much is at risk.”

After the library has established a clear direction, the library will begin a nationwide recruitment process for a new director, Timmons said.

Percy earned $74,046 per year. Shelton’s salary was not available on Tuesday.

Technical services manager Keith Darrock had filed a complaint that Percy had asked him to gather material to be used to advocate the library bond issue.

The material was never used for that purpose, according to a report by Inslee, Best, Doezie and Ryder, a Bellevue law firm, which was submitted June 27.

The city has not received an invoice for the cost of the investigation, Deputy City Clerk Joanna Sanders said Tuesday.

The city released the report after Percy said that she would not contest its findings.

Percy did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

According to the report, Percy asked Darrock sometime during the week of June 10 to provide a list of Books on Wheels patrons in the Castle Hill neighborhood to be used as canvassing for the bond issue, a request that Darrock supplied in an incomplete form.

He declined to supply the addresses that corresponded with the names until he could clear it with City Attorney John Watts, the report said.

The report said Darrock told investigators that Percy accused him of insubordination and threatened to fire him if he did not provide the list as requested.

Percy told investigators “there is absolutely no way” she would have fired Darrock, but she was hurt by his refusal to provide her with the list because she saw it as an expression of distrust.

Percy said that if anyone were to contact Watts, it should be her.

Percy told investigators she planned to clarify her intentions to Darrock but was placed on administrative leave before that occurred.

The report concluded that Darrock would never have been fired, that the statements to do so were “in the moment” and that Percy ultimately respected Darrock and his abilities.

Percy, who began work as director in 2004, had mentored Darrock and hoped that he would one day succeed her as library director, the report said.

The report characterized Percy as “passionate” about the library and efforts to improve it.

“The evidence indicates that Ms. Percy was intimately and deeply involved in the capital campaign efforts prior to Council approval of the ballot measure on May 6, 2013 and that it has been difficult for her to separate herself from the ‘cause’ now that it has been submitted to public vote,” the report concluded.

“The subjects of this investigation appear to be products of this difficulty and have been taxing and stressful for many, including Ms. Percy, and this stress may have affected her better judgement.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 16. 2013 6:22PM
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