There was some activity involving current and former SAIF CEO’s this past week. It seems two of them, John Gilkey and Brenda Rocklin, want out of their current situation. Yesterday Interim CEO John Gilkey sent an email to SAIF employees informing them he plans to retire once the new SAIF Board has secured a replacement. His email reads:
From: John Gilkey
Date: October 1, 2014 at 10:45:05
Subject: Message from John
In May of this year, the Board of Directors asked me to step in and serve as interim president and CEO of SAIF Corporation. I agreed to do so, suspending retirement planning I had underway. I also informed the board, early on, that I should not be considered as a long-term candidate for the position.
It is important and appropriate that the Board of Directors that will guide SAIF into the future select the next CEO. That board is now in place, and ready to begin that work. I will continue to serve as interim CEO until my successor is named, and I have assured the board that I will stay on as long as necessary to ensure a seamless transition.
Since I expect to be working with you all for some time yet, I'll save the expressions of appreciation and thanks that I owe to each of you for a later communication. For now, just know that I remain fully committed to SAIF, its mission, its employees and partners, and those we serve.
John Gilkey, Interim President and CEO
Actually, readers may recall Gilkey was officially asked to assume the role of CEO in an email from Ryan Fleming and Chris Davie, who notified him that SAIF was in need of a leadership change, and that they and the board had tagged him for the position. The apparent fact that all of that discussion and subsequent direction happened behind closed doors and outside of Oregon’s Open Meeting laws was not mentioned. I must also point out that this occurred before John Plotkin even knew there was a problem, as the soldiers in this HR led coup had not yet opened fire on the Presidential Palace.
And of course we have come to learn that anyone in authority in Oregon doesn’t give a rat’s ass about any possible legal or procedural violations in this.
In my view, Gilkey was the last potential break stop in the process that improperly terminated John Plotkin. He could have assumed the mantle of leadership by stopping the process, asking key questions and insisting on a proper investigation into the allegations. He could have assured John Plotkin received due process.
That did not occur, and he therefore became a willing accomplice in the action. Therefore I think it is wise at this point that he pursue a strategy of retirement, rather than push to keep the position. Gilkey will be the third major figure in the Plotkin affair to retire since Plotkin’s termination last May.
It is interesting that there are suddenly so many people interested in retirement at SAIF. This would have been much simpler if they had done so last April. Still, I can think of a couple other people there that desperately need retiring.
Also, last week former SAIF CEO Brenda Rocklin filed a motion asking to have the lawsuit filed against her by John Plotkin dismissed, saying she did not have any real involvement in his termination. In last weeks court filing, according to the Oregon Statesman Journal;
“Rocklin describes a meeting between Rocklin and Ryan Fleming, vice president of operations and human resources for SAIF and another defendant in the case, regarding complaints from “several” employees about Plotkin. The document states Fleming was unsure of how to handle the complaints made about his superior, and sought to meet with Rocklin for advice.
Over dinner in April, Fleming told Rocklin about the complaints, and she in turn felt obligated to tell Fleming about a comment Plotkin made in February, according to the document, while he toured SAIF buildings with Rocklin before her retirement. She said Plotkin told her a story about learning to make goat cheese with his wife, and “made an observation to the effect that the goats did not like its ‘tits’ to be pulled, but he guessed no one likes to have their ‘tits’ pulled,” the document reads.”
For the record, Plotkin said he used the word “teats”, the proper vernacular for the anatomy in question. Beyond that meeting Rocklin claims Fleming decided to go directly to the board, and she had no further involvement in the termination of Plotkin.
The filing, however, does not explain the plethora of phone calls that records indicate occurred between Rocklin and key SAIF executives up to and through the Plotkin termination drama. In fact, records show that Rocklin spoke with former VP Chris Davie as many as 95 times during Plotkins short tenure, and she spoke with Ryan Fleming at least 8 times; three times on the day Plotkin was first notified that the Board wanted him gone. What was the purpose and content of those calls? The subjects discussed during those simply should not be eliminated by a simple court action. They deserve to be explained
Perhaps they were all wrong numbers.
Regardless, her assertions still leave Mr. Fleming exposed, as it seems to be more evidence that by discussing company personnel matters with outsiders he failed to honor employee confidentiality requirements in the Plotkin matter.
Ryan, if you are feeling a heavy weight on your chest, it is probably just the bus you are being thrown under.
So, we have two SAIF CEO’s who wish for a change in their situation. In my opinion one should get their wish and the other should not. Of course it is possible neither will get what they desire, as SAIF is going to have a very tough time finding any qualified candidate to take the job. Whoever they select will need the freedom to come in with a broom – make that a shovel – and clean the house to their liking. In hindsight it is certainly something John Plotkin should have done. He famously asked some of these same players to “have his back” in the event there were concerns about his leadership.
They certainly kept his back in their sights, he just didn’t know they had painted a target on it first.
For a list of Bob’s other SAIF/Plotkin articles (as well as a couple old AASCIF articles that get picked up in the search), Click here.