September 18, 2014

Medina
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Harassment complaints levied against Medina building official

MEDINA — The city’s chief building inspector was placed on administrative leave last month for “alleged violations of the city’s sexual harassment policy,” according to his personnel file.

Steve Vogel’s file, provided by Mayor Dennis Hanwell’s office Friday after a public records request from The Gazette, includes a Nov. 20 letter notifying Vogel that he had been placed on administrative leave following complaints he harassed or created a hostile work environment for two female city employees.

Hanwell said he cannot comment on the ongoing investigation being handled by city Law Director Greg Huber.

On Thursday, Hanwell said there are no criminal charges or citations filed against Vogel.

He said he received a report on the investigation from Huber on Friday afternoon and will review it over the weekend. Hanwell said he and city officials are still deciding how to handle the matter but may have a statement next week.

Vogel was ordered in the letter to turn in his city phone, iPad, keys to City Hall and any other city-issued materials.

He was ordered to report to Huber’s office Nov. 25 to make a formal statement regarding the allegations against him, and not to discuss the matter with either of the two women named or any other city employee.

Vogel could not be reached for comment Friday.

Vogel’s personnel file shows:
• In an April 2011-March 2012 performance review, he was marked for “partially adequate” demeanor, and ranked 6 out of a possible 10. His then-supervisor, Greg Hannan, wrote that Vogel was “new to supervisor role and growing in the position. Had previous discussions on supportive tone to staff.” All previous reviews rated Vogel between 8 and 10 for his demeanor.

• A March 2012 letter from Hannan also addressed Vogel’s attitude. Hannan criticized Vogel for refusing to forward annual reports to him for prior review before they went to the mayor’s office. After two emails and a verbal request, Vogel did not comply. “You stated on Feb. 29, 2012 that you knowingly did not follow through my request as the annual reports were due to the mayor and not myself. As we discussed, this is not acceptable as I am your supervisor.”

• The same letter also reprimands Vogel for yelling at an administrative employee in front of two customers. The yelling was overheard by “multiple city hall employees across the building and anyone who was present within the rotunda.” The letter offered supervisor training to help Vogel ease into his new position.

• A March 11, 2008, letter to executive secretary Dawn Conwill and Service Director Nino Piccoli discusses a formal reprimand for Vogel after a Guilford Township resident filed a complaint against him that claimed he was unprofessional and discourteous. Building official Jon Parker wrote: “I know, as does Nino, that Steve has on previous occasions demonstrated a limited ability to receive or accept criticism.” Parker also wrote Vogel showed disinterest in supervisor training.

• In 2007, after at least two verbal warnings, Vogel was warned in an official letter from Piccoli to stop bathing at the sink in the public restroom in the basement of City Hall instead of the shower after workouts, because “other employees and the general public frequently use this facility and are offended by the smell of the odor left on the paper towels used to dry your body that are often discarded in the waste receptacle.”

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.