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[August 13, 2014]
City of Portland's top accountant placed on administrative leave [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]
(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 13--The top Portland accountant who played a key role in the firing of the city's former chief administrative officer has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Controller Jane Kingston was relieved of her duties last week by the city's new administrator, Fred Miller, Miller said Tuesday.
Miller declined to disclose what prompted the leave or whether Kingston will return. He also declined to say if the city is negotiating a severance package for Kingston, who is an at-will employee.
Kingston referred questions to a private attorney, who did not respond to requests for comment.
Miller said his decision was not in retaliation for the 2013 email argument between Kingston and Miller's predecessor, Jack D. Graham.
"That's ancient history for me," Miller said.
Kingston's leave comes amid broader restructuring within the Office of Management & Finance, which was upended by a scandal involving Graham that began in 2012.
Then-Chief Financial Officer Rich Goward and other financial managers accused Graham of attempting to steer water and sewer reserves to the general fund to offset budget cuts.
In 2013, the city eliminated Goward's position, saying the job was unnecessary.
Goward said his dismissal was in part related his role as a whistle-blower and received one year's salary as severance. Portland restored the CFO position this year and is now conducting a nationwide search to fill it.
Kingston, meanwhile, exchanged fiery emails with Graham in October over who was to blame for a highly technical accounting issue.
After the dispute, Kingston took medical leave and didn't return until December, after Mayor Charlie Hales fired Graham.
In the absence of a chief financial officer, Kingston has been reporting directly to Miller.
Miller said Kingston hasn't had a performance review since September 2013, when she received a 4.1 percent raise and scored "commendable," the second-highest rating for an employee.
Kingston has been the city's controller since August 2010, overseeing an accounting division of about two-dozen employees and earning an annual salary of more than $120,000.
-- Brad Schmidt ___ (c)2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at www.oregonian.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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