INDIAN TRAIL – Throughout the investigation and termination of former town manager Patrick Sadek, Indian Trail town council members could not comment on the nature of the confidential, personnel-related investigation.
The investigation may have come as a surprise to some. Town council publicly praised Sadek frequently. In November, council members voted to extend Sadek’s contract two years and give him an 8% salary increase.
The Indian Trail Weekly put in a public information request for emails between Sadek and the council in the three weeks leading up to the decision to place Sadek on paid administrative leave. Three emails stood out that implied a rise in frustrations and tension between Sadek and the council behind closed doors. Emails have been edited for spelling errors and clarity.
On Jan. 2, Indian Trail resident Rob Akelman emailed all council members regarding an incident involving God Bless USA Trucks garbage service. Akelman said he witnessed garbage collectors putting trash and recyclable items together, rather than separating them. He used his Ring doorbell to verify this. Akelman told the council he was sure one of them would say the garbage collectors would sort through the trash and recyclables after collecting them, but Akelman believed this would be unlikely and cost-restrictive to the business.
In response to the email, councilmember Todd Barber said he passed the information on to Sadek. Sadek replied to Akelman Jan. 3, confirming the issue.
“The solid waste vendor should not be mixing solid waste [with] recycling materials,” Sadek wrote. “The concern has been brought to our attention once before. We do appreciate reporting the problem and we will make sure this will not occur again.”
Sadek also emailed Adam McLamb about the issue. McLamb serves as the town’s public services director.
“That is one of the reasons why the Town has fined him $64,000 for all of the violations that they committed for the last 9 months and they continue to violate the terms of the contract,” Sadek wrote to McLamb. “Contact Waste Connection and let them know that they will be subject to more fines if they continue to mix materials.”
Mayor Pro Tem Marcus McIntyre took issue with Sadek’s response to Akelman. He emailed Sadek, Akelman, McLamb and the council Jan. 3, stating his concern that Sadek confirmed the allegation without concrete proof.
McIntyre also wrote in the email that he recalled Sadek once saying that contaminating recyclables turns them into trash.
“I would encourage the Town Manager to gather facts before responding,” McIntyre wrote. “Allegations of mixing materials are just that, allegations until verifiable proof is received.”
The following week, another issue arose. Barber emailed the town’s communications coordinator, Abbey Ball, following up about a charger for his phone on Jan. 9. After Ball said she found a spare charger for him and would give it to him at his next visit to town hall, Barber thanked her and asked Ball to print him four copies of the new Unified Development Ordinance to pick up as well. Sadek and town attorney Karen Wolter were copied on the response.
Sadek replied to Barber, requesting that future requests from town staff be emailed to Sadek, rather than to staff members directly. Town council and several town staff members were copied on the email.
“If it is not too much trouble, I would ask that you submit any requests that lead to tasking my staff with activities to my attention. Activities that [have] impact on their daily routine and especially activities that include labor equip., & mat. cost,” Sadek wrote. “These requests should come from the governing body not from one individual council member. It is your legal [right] to request the copies and we make that happen.”
Barber replied that it was “no trouble at all,” and that he copied Sadek on the email to ensure he was following the correct process.
Two hours later, Mayor Michael Alvarez replied to Sadek, with town council and staff copied on the email.
“Let’s all remember who works for whom,” Alvarez wrote. “[In] the event copies of documentation are requested it is council’s responsibility to contact the town clerk to process. This is in the statute under the job duties. Provided it is not items prohibited by law you may have the copies. Please give the clerk enough time to process. It is time the clerk does the job the state dictates. If more conversation on this needs to take place let me know and I will call a closed session to have the attorney explain these duties. Patronizing emails to council are unwarranted.”
A few days later on Jan. 12, Alvarez emailed Sadek regarding complaints about the grass on a property in the town owned by TyPar Commercial Realty. Alvarez wrote that he and members of the church on the property requested the grass to be cut “for months.”
Alvarez asked Sadek in the email why staff had not followed up, if TyPar had been informed and if a fine had been issued for the length of time it had been. He urged Sadek get town staff to handle the issue and get the grass cut as soon as possible.
“That is incorrect! Staff had followed up,” Sadek replied in an email to Alvarez and town staff. “Adam took on the task himself. The grass has been cut at least twice or three times.”
Sadek wrote that he spoke with the church’s pastor, who had no issue with it and understood the situation. Sadek also wrote that he saw the location that day and the grass was less than four inches. He told Alvarez to “drive to the field and see that for yourself.”
Alvarez wrote that the photo he attached in the email was from that day and he gets this complaint on a weekly basis.
“The elders of the church have reached out,” Alvarez wrote. “They are the [pastor’s]’ bosses. Again speak to them and clear this up.”
Just two days prior, the Indian Trail Weekly published a profile on Sadek that discussed his accomplishments and his vision for the town’s future.
Councilman Jerry Morse emailed Sadek about the story, thanking him for his dedication to the town.
“Your efforts, and those of your staff are unmatched by your peers,” Morse wrote. “We are fortunate in having you at the helm as you navigate our Town through 2020 and beyond.”
The following week, the council made the unanimous decision to place Sadek on leave. Throughout the investigation, McIntyre expressed his gratitude to town staff.