FORT LAUDERDALE -- -- City Clerk Jonda Joseph's staff says she's bullying, disorganized, demeaning and lacks technical skills -- charges very similar to ones that surfaced while she was clerk in Coral Springs in the 1990s.
Mayor Jack Seiler this month requested the City Attorney's Office investigate complaints about Joseph that were brought to the Office of Professional Standards. The investigation concluded morale in the clerk's office was "unusually low due to the management style of the city clerk."
Seiler expects to bring the matter up at the commission meeting on Tuesday, unless he determines more information is needed. Joseph was hired by the mayor and commissioners and reports directly to them.
"The allegations are serious enough to warrant a discussion," Seiler said.
Joseph acknowledged the morale problem in a written response to the investigation.
"The employee suggestions gleaned from the interviews show that better communication is needed," Joseph said. She said she would work to improve her interpersonal skills, hold more staff meetings, keep more regular office hours and improve her approachability.
In an email on Wednesday, Joseph declined to be interviewed, saying her action plan addressed the investigation and she had nothing to add.
Joseph, 60, was hired as clerk in March 2004 and currently earns $110,156.80 annually.
She was clerk in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea at the time she took the city position, but it was her stay in Coral Springs that brought her notoriety. She worked for Coral Springs for more than 20 years, but resigned the city clerk position in 1996 after criticism of her management style hounded her for more than three years.
Among the complaints: She belittled and humiliated workers, was a poor manager and didn't have basic knowledge of her job.
When she was hired by Fort Lauderdale, Joseph said: "It's been a long time since I worked in Coral Springs ... I've learned a lot. I feel like I'm a better manager now."
But this month, some of her staff filed a complaint listing 25 "issues" with how she runs the office. "Yells frequently" was one. "Mean-spirited, belittling, bullying, demeaning, condescending and disempowering," read the next.
The employees said she was disorganized and absent-minded, unwilling to coordinate her work time with that of her employees, and was "unable to make an important telephone call or attend a meeting by herself."
In investigating the situation, Assistant City Attorney Ginger Wald was told Joseph frequently demands her staff do personal errands for her, has problems using the computer system and does not respond to her mail, email and telephone messages.
City Attorney Harry Stewart told Seiler that Joseph's response to the investigation is positive and "will greatly improve the working conditions in her office when implemented."
"It may be helpful if you personally discuss the changes and training proposed by Jonda and a timetable for their completion," Stewart wrote to Seiler.
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