Standing up for my values and ethics
While working on the river park trail funded by a federal flow through state grant, I was approached by the Mayor to sign a purchase order (P.O) acknowledging receipt of services to pay a consultant $7K billing the river park trail grant. I questioned the request as I had not received anything from the consultant. The Mayor publicly screamed at me in the middle of the courtyard of City Hall in an attempt to intimidate me to sign the request. I told him I wouldn’t sign it until I had a product in my hands and walked away.
The following week the Mayor and I met up as I had scheduled him to present at a regional conference. After the event he asked me to walk with him to his car. He apologized for his outburst and assured me that he was knowledgeable about the city’s purchasing process. Later on I learned that he had tried to process the P.O. through purchasing and they requested my signature. So his apology was nothing more than an attempt to sweet talk me into signing the request.
He scheduled a meeting with me and the Director of economic development. He again tried to intimidate me to sign the document after yelling and screaming how he had lost trust and faith in me and my work performance. I challenged his attack and told him that he was only upset because I wouldn’t sign the P.O. He was so upset that he stormed out of the conference room.
I attempted to bring this issue to city council members but after my meeting with the strongest one yielded nothing I decided it would be worthless to approach the others. I kept hearing my professor’s words in my mind, “If you find yourself in a position that threatens your values and ethics, you have two options. Leave the job as fast as you can. Or stay and fight but before you make this decision you need to be sure to the measure the impact it is going to have on your family, friends and other people around you.”
The next couple of weeks were hell. It was a difficult decision to walk away from a job I truly loved but just as my professor had advised, I weighed the two options. I moved on to another job, a surprise to the Mayor that I did not submit.