Recall is underway for officers of Retired Public Employees of Alaska association - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, November 28, 2021
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Recall is underway for officers of Retired Public Employees of Alaska association

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An effort is underway to remove Stephanie Rhoades, the executive board secretary of the Retired Public Employees of Alaska, who is accused of staging an illegal coup against the former board president.

A separate recall is being launched for the current board president, Randall Burns.

The group of retirees seeing the recall say that Rhoades, a retired judge, “knowingly, willfully, and deceitfully (a) acted in violation of RPEA Bylaws and Policies and Procedures; (b) violated provisions of the APEA-AFL Constitution under which RPEA is chartered as Local 4900R; (c) failed to acknowledge her conflict of interest and refrain from voting or participating in Executive Board decisions regarding a recall petition in which Ms. Rhoades was a subject of recall; (d) violated federal and state laws and RPEA Policies and Procedures relating to Age Discrimination; and (e) engaged in disruptive, negative, vindictive behavior toward other Executive Board members and RPEA staff thereby creating a toxic, hostile working environment that prevented RPEA from conducting business in an orderly manner. Her actions led to the mass resignation of three Executive Board members and RPEA’s administrative staff. Ms. Rhoades’ actions significantly weakened RPEA during current ongoing litigation with the State of Alaska to preserve member benefits.”

That litigation is an active court case fighting to retain medical benefits for retirees.

The group’s previous president, Sharon Hoffbeck, quit abruptly this summer under pressure, and wrote a letter that made it clear that Rhoades had created a hostile environment. Hoffbeck had worked as the volunteer president for nine years; essentially, she had been forced out by a board coup that she and others say involved illegal meetings.

Hoffbeck also filed a misconduct complaint against Rhoades in September.

The group of retirees seeing to remove Rhoades say that: “Rhoades knowingly, willfully, and deceitfully acted in violation of RPEA Bylaws and Alaska law on multiple occasions as she coordinated and participated in the ouster of RPEA leadership and administrative staff. Her covert activities include illegally assuming the “mantle” of leadership granted solely to the President and the Executive Vice-President; conducting “secret” meetings without notification to all Executive Board members and the membership at large; calendaring RPEA Executive Board meetings and setting meeting agendas without legal authority; failing to provide legal notice of such meetings to the membership in a timely manner as required by law and RPEA Bylaws, thereby depriving both general RPEA members and some Executive Board members the opportunity to participate; and executing final personnel and financial actions during such illegal meetings.”

Further, the group wrote, “Prior to July 27, Rhoades instigated and led a ‘secret’ meeting of six Executive Board members (Stephanie Rhoades, Randall Burns, Judi Slajer, Wendy Woolf, Brenda Knapp, and Cindy Spanyers). The purpose of the “secret” meeting was to plan the immediate removal of President Sharon Hoffbeck, the ouster of administrative staff and other future actions. Notice of the ‘secret’ meeting was not provided to President Hoffbeck, Executive Vice President Brad Owens, nor Communications Membership Director Bob Grove. The ‘secret’ meeting was conducted for RPEA business and required proper notice to all Executive Board and RPEA general membership as required by RPEA Bylaws Article VII, Section 5.”

Rhoades subsequently “planned, orchestrated, and set the agenda for a Special Executive Board meeting. These actions were taken without authority under RPEA Bylaws or under the applicable procedures outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order, as specified for small boards, which control actions not specifically addressed in RPEA’s Bylaws. The Special Executive Board meeting apparently was originally planned for July 20, 2021, but for unknown reasons was postponed until July 27, 2021.”

For the meeting scheduled by Rhoades, Hoffbeck wasn’t notified until late in the evening on the day before the meeting; thus she didn’t know that a meeting had been called, and did not have the ability to attend.

Hoffbeck emailed Rhoades on July 27, stating: “Stephanie, Any other meeting must be held with the knowledge of the full E-Board, scheduled in accordance with the RPEA bylaws and state laws, and noticed per the RPEA bylaws and state law. Your proposed meeting – to have begun 15 minutes ago – is 100% illegal.”

Also on July 27, Executive Vice President Owens emailed Ms. Rhoades, stating: “Stephanie, It is my understanding that you and five other E Board members met today, despite my objection, and transacted business on behalf of RPEA…Please provide to me immediately any resolutions adopted or motions passed by the six E Bd members who attended the meeting today and the votes cast by each member on each resolution or motion…I believe this conduct by the six E Board members may constitute a serious violation of RPEA Bylaws and Alaska law…”

The group claims that Rhoades illegally assumed the authority reserved to then-President Hoffbeck, and in concert with the five other attending board members (Burns, Slajer, Woolf, Knapp, and Spanyers) illegally accelerated the resignation date of Hoffbeck to be effective immediately, and stripped then-Executive Vice-President Owens of his legal authority under the bylaws to step up as interim president. The mutineers appointed Burns as president for the duration of Hoffbeck’s term, and authorized “the expenditure of $5,000 of membership dues to hire outside legal counsel, fearing legal action for violating RPEA Bylaws and/or creating a hostile work environment for the administrative staff.”

The RPEA is a watchdog and advocacy group for thousands of retirees of the State of Alaska, ensuring that the benefits they were promised are not eroded through time.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Familiar with Ms. Rhoades and her clique, I have to wonder what her/their motivations were and her/their goals for the RPEA………

  • Miss or Mrs. (I am strongly guessing “Miss”) Rhoades sounds like a perfect candidate for a seat on the Anchorage Assembly! It appears that she has all the personal qualities and qualifications to fit right in with most of its other current members.

  • Just when you think Alaska can’t get any more corrupt

  • This has much to do with a culture of power, conflict, entitlement and ego that is proliferating in our communities these days. A former judge does not have much experience in being informed that they cannot, or should not, do something. Others just want the money to keep flowing. Now those involved will burn up the group’s resources defending their egos instead of solving actual problems. Sadly, a lot of this happens in America today. Shameful.

  • Didn’t Ms Rhoades have some recent connection with the street people conundrum?

  • Why do some individuals heads get so big and think they have the right to be the boss of everyone? This is a lot of people’s retirements that they are messing with, play nicely even when you don’t like each other.

  • This group has hijacked a perfectly functioning organization to satisfy their egos!

    In doing so, it appears they may have failed to follow appropriate processes and legal proceedings. Furthermore, they may be using organizational resources to fund their flawed coup.

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