May 7, 2011 in Washington Voices

Community development director retiring in July

McClung worked previously in Federal Way, Kent
By The Spokesman-Review
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City of Spokane Valley Community Development Director Kathy McClung plans to leave behind a career of 32 years when she retires at the end of July.

She has worked for the city for four years and only had two previous jobs before coming here, having spent 17 years working for Federal Way, Wash., after a slightly less lengthy tenure in Kent, Wash.

“There were two employees here that I had worked with before at other cities,” McClung said. “Greg McCormick and Mary Kate McGee had both worked with me in Kent. They both encouraged me to apply.

“There were a lot of things about the city of Spokane Valley that reminded me of Federal Way in its early incorporation days. I thought I could make a difference.”

During her tenure McClung said she has worked to improve communication between the three areas of community development that she oversees. She also formalized procedures that made the permitting process easier. “They had just reorganized when I took the job,” she said.

After her retirement McClung plans to spend more time with her husband, who still lives in Renton, Wash., and works as a building official. The two have been taking turns commuting to each other’s location every weekend. “It would never have worked if we still had kids at home,” she said. “It isn’t that hard, really. There’s a flight that leaves every hour.”

She still plans to keep her home here, however, and live here even as she spends more time with her husband. “We want to retire here,” she said. “He’s still got about four years to go.”

McClung also wants to volunteer at the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank, which she has long supported. “I do the coupon thing and I see how far I can stretch 20 dollars every month,” she said. “Usually it’s about four or five boxes of food.”

Her departure from the city was announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting by City Manager Mike Jackson. That got a quick response from Councilman Bill Gothmann, who sends out an email report of the council meetings every week. At the end of this week’s report he noted that McClung makes the sixth “critical” employee to leave the city in the last 16 months.

“I have seen council members treat staff, not only with disrespect, but with hostility,” he wrote. “They are great people who serve us many times under trying conditions.”

Gothmann elaborated on his comments during a phone interview. “I think there’s a general disdain for any advice they give,” he said. “I really do. I’ve talked to a lot of staff members and I know that’s how they feel.

“We’ve got a lot of good talent here and I’m afraid that we’re losing it,” he said. “I am the only one who goes around and talks to staff. I’m the only one who consults with staff. The council members don’t even talk to staff except at meetings.”

Gothmann said he often sends emails to staff members asking questions at night or on the weekends. “Very often I get a reply on weekends,” he said. “They didn’t have to do that. That’s the kind of dedication these people have.”

Mayor Tom Towey said he disagreed with Gothmann’s statement that the staff is ill-treated. “He has his absolute right to give his opinion on anything the council does,” he said. “I have not personally seen any disrespect or any hostile hostility toward the staff.”

Towey said he has not heard any complaints from staff members. “I can speak for myself; I can’t speak for the other council members,” he said. “I have the highest regard for our staff. They do a great job for our city. Each and every one are dedicated.”

McClung said of the council, “I can’t say that they have treated me in a hostile way directly.” And she agreed that her staff does a great job. “I’ve really enjoyed working with my staff,” she said. “They’ve been top-notch.”

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