As a state senator, Pam Roach was accused of creating a hostile work environment. Now a Pierce County Council member, her behavior is again an issue — so much so that county staffers can excuse themselves from meetings attended by Roach if they think she is being rude.
The message from Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier to his department directors and staffers couldn’t be clearer: Don’t talk to county Councilmember Pam Roach. Instead, put everything in writing.
The memo issued this week by Dan Grimm, Dammeier’s chief operating officer, cites a pattern of “rude and unprofessional behavior” by Roach, elected to the County Council last year after a 26-year career in the state Senate, where her treatment of staff led to multiple clashes with colleagues. Grimm delivered the memo to Roach on Tuesday and spoke with her briefly.
“Regrettably, Councilmember Roach’s behavior has not been consistently respectful or civil,” the memo states.
Roach told The News Tribune that Dammeier’s action reflects his lack of respect for council members.
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“We know each other from the Legislature,” Roach said, referring to Dammeier’s past service as a state senator. “He knows very well that I’m gonna want some respect here. We’re supposed to have equal branches of government, and in Pierce County, we do not.”
Dammeier’s directive sets the following conditions for staff contact with Roach:
▪ Personal meetings with Roach require approval in advance from Grimm or his designees;
▪ Department directors and staff will respond to requests for information from Roach only if she submits them in writing or during public council meetings;
▪ All information or assistance to Roach must be provided in writing and retained;
▪ Directors and staff may excuse themselves from meetings attended by Roach (or phone calls from her) if they think she is being rude or unprofessional.
Grimm told The News Tribune that the topic of Roach’s behavior has “been a discussion item for months.” No single incident provoked the decision, he said. Instead, it was an accumulation of incidents involving contacts with staff in the public works and budget and finance departments.
“Hope springs eternal,” Grimm said. “One hoped that her behavior here would rise to a higher standard than what was the case when she was in Olympia when she was a state senator. But it…