Recipe for revenge: Anchorage city managers handled pe*is-shaped cookie complaints correctly, Ombudsman says in final report

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Photo credit: Gaetan Lee, Wikimedia Commons

Once upon a time last year, a high-level manager brought penis-shaped cookies to the mayor’s office at the Anchorage Municipality. It was a tawdry treat that turned into a workplace tit-for-tat that turned into a political maelstrom that became fodder for the mainstream media.

Several current and former city employees contacted the Anchorage Ombudsman, who works for the mayor-maligning Anchorage Assembly, alleging that the Human Resources Department/Labor Relations had failed to investigate the complaints the employees had filed with them regarding the alleged inappropriate behavior of the department director, including distribution of the penis-shaped cookies at City Hall.

The manager, Purchasing Director Rachelle Alger, was also accused of being mean.

“Multiple current and former MOA employees contacted the Ombudsman alleging inappropriate behavior by an MOA department director. The individuals alleged that the director had ‘yelled, cursed, and screamed at them’ and stated that the director’s behavior was ‘aggressive, intimidating, and disruptive’. The employees alleged that the director had bullied and harassed them, “including distributing penis shaped cookies in City Hall.”

Ombudsman Darrell Hess has determined in his report to the Assembly that allegations that the Human Resources Department/Labor Relations failed to properly investigate employee complaints about inappropriate behavior are not supported by the evidence.

The complainants told Hess the director had created a hostile and toxic work environment. The Ombudsman first ascertained that the employees had not yet filed complaints with the Human Resources Department, but had brought their complaints to him first. He referred them to Human Resources to start the process. Some of the employees did filed complaints with HR, while others did not, stating to the Ombudsman that they thought it would be a waste of time, as it was rumored that the mayor had a ”no fire list” and that the director was on the list.

Several employees who filed with Human Resources/Labor Relations later contacted the Ombudsman, alleging that HR/LR had not taken their complaints seriously and had not investigated them.

Ombudsman Hess opened an investigation into that allegation. In the process, he reviewed emails, notes, and files in Human Resources/Labor Relations and found documentation that the department had, indeed, taken the matter seriously and acted on it.

“The Ombudsman’s Office also reviewed multiple other documents related to whether HR investigated the employee complaints regarding the alleged behavior of the director. The documents reviewed by the Ombudsman’s Office and their interviews with current and former MOA employees, demonstrated that LR had taken the employee complaints seriously and that they had investigated all the employee complaints that had been filed with them regarding the alleged inappropriate behavior of the director, including the alleged distribution of penis shaped cookies at City Hall,” Hess wrote.

His report to the Anchorage Assembly is in the Tuesday meeting packet for the meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at the Loussac Library on the ground floor. The full report can be viewed here:

33 COMMENTS

  1. When I made complaints about two other entities under the review of the Ombudsmans office, it was a monumental effort to get that office to do anything. Once they did make a phone call at the request of several others, they blithely believed the liars and thieves who deliberately obscured and destroyed evidence. No confidence in the Ombudsman.

  2. A common mistake people make is assuming HR and the ombudsman are on the side of staff.

    Far from it.

    HR and ombudsman are there to make problems go away for the company. Usually by assisting management in punishment of staff. I’ve heard it described as HR holds you so management can hit immobile targets.

  3. Oh, for F’s sake!
    Seriously. This city is adamant that men should be allowed to walk around naked in women’s locker rooms, that children should be able to read pornographic books in grade school, and thinks there is nothing wrong with drag queens reading to toddlers, but a penis shaped cookie is a problem?

    • My guess is there is a majority on the ASSembly that are jealous because they did not receive any of the penis shaped goodies to munch on during their important discussions about the children’s book section in “their” library…. Someone needs to get up to speed in the kitchen LOL

    • Could you imagine the horror if a child had eaten one of those penis shaped cookies? I’m sure the conservative christian fanatics would just lose their minds.

      • Liz, what part of unprofessional do you not understand? This is a workplace and a government one at that and lewd anything has no business there.

        Last I checked ACTUAL children do not work for the Muni, but from this report apparently unprofessional infantile adults do.
        We have rules in place for the workspace to avoid harassment, which should be universally observed.

        I agree with CBMTTek, in the grand scheme of things this is ridiculous, but at the same time indicative of the lack of professionalism and inter-personal skills in that department.

        BTW Liz you can loose your uneducated stereo-typing attitude.

        • You are correct. Unprofessional infantile adults work at the MUNI. And it starts with the major. 100% agree with you.

          • I agree with you totally.
            The Mayor really needs to clean house. Fire all the infants.
            .
            Oh… wait.
            Isn’t that exactly the toxic work environment the leftists are complaining about?
            .
            Damn… poor Mayor Bronson. If he gets rid of the infantile adults, he is a problem. If he leaves them working, he is the problem.

          • Thanks for the laugh, very clever Liz!
            You are clearly entitled to your opinion. I for one have watched a few assembly meetings and find Mayor Bronson to be one of the few adults in the room, with all the eye rolling, huffing and hyperventilating coming from the assembly dais.
            Since you claim to agree with me, why do you defend the inappropriate serving of lewd shaped cookies by a supervisor to people in his department? This is not a “gotcha” question. I genuinely would like to know what prompted you to make your original statement.

      • Was there a point to this?

        Let me know when children are put to work in the Muni. Then you might have a 1/3 point.

      • I’m going to say the horror would be rather muted.
        Unlike leftists, there is not as much pearl clutching and crybulling on the conservative christians as we are led to believe.

  4. My guess is there will be an extended work session over this very important topic with a sidebar at Mad Myrna’s over few rounds of draft Bud Lite tranny fluid….The public is invited to attend.

  5. Worked long and hard to resolve noise complaints due to Alaska RailRoad off loading hopper cars inching past our homes on Evander Drive in south Anchorage to absolutely no avail!! Even gathered community input as to negative impact on homes and family disturbances to back up my complaint!! All completely disregarded by Anch ombudsman who said he had more serious issues to deal with such as mistreatment of inmates at Spring Hill Correctional Facility in Seward!! Seem like the offenders get a priority over the legitimate tax paying home owners!!

  6. Wow people just want to complain and cry at every thing.
    What a bunch of children we have especially working in the city government.
    You employees think you’re untouchable and so important that the world will not spin without you.

  7. Who was the tattle tale? As inappropriate the joke was it wasn’t anything for an Ombudsman to waste his time over. These things were settled over a verbal warning and removal of the offending object or a write-up. Stupid! Government employees are on the slow side. It comes from sitting around all day and all night not doing not enough to keep busy.” Women used to keep themselves busy with crocheting, needlework, knitting, cleaning house. While men built things in their off times.

  8. Just how low will these dumb asses stoop? I’m sick and tired of hearing about this crap! Professionalism has been tossed out the window. GROW THE HELL UP for God’s sake!

  9. I am shocked at how business etiquette in Anchorage has really gone down the drain. Sexual innuendos should be kept out of the business environment for the sake of being appropriate. Have fun with that kind of stuff at a home party. The fact that this even is a topic shows that Anchorage needs to be wiped from the bottom up and start over. There are more important fish to fry.

  10. For perspective:
    .
    Darrel Hess in 2022 was employed at City of Anchorage and had an annual salary of $116,584 according to public records. This salary was 41 percent higher than the average and 38 percent higher than the median salary in City of Anchorage.
    .
    City of Anchorage records show Darrel Hess held job of Ombudsman from 2017 to 2022.
    .
    In year 2022 Darrel Hess’s salary was 141 percent higher than average Ombudsman salary.
    .
    We are surely getting our money’s worth with this one. His 7 page written report where he found that the Bronson administration had done everything right, yes, read that again, Bronson’s administration did everything right, he just couldn’t stop himself from postulating POTENTIAL problems, although not written, definitely alluded to, even in the final paragraph. This is the reason our taxes are raised every year, to pay for this Seattlesque drivel. Cheers –

  11. Personally, I think people NEED to wash their brains. How does a cookie made from a cookie cutter represent an ****. The gingerbread man has been a cookie cutter for generations w/o this type of interpretation. People are making a mountain out of some idiot ideas.. I am not naïve, there are people that live this lifestyle day and night… For those people who misinterpret this meaning. Now I know there is *some* people in the Muni who live that lifestyle so I can see they don’t think otherwise and have no respect for the normal everyday human. To those, they need to be removed, because pushing this garbage is their lifestyle and they insist other people to join their clique.

  12. Makes one wonder, who the lewd cookie baker is. This tiptoeing around by the ombudsman is uncharacteristic, especially since he never seems to miss an opportunity to stick it to the mayor…..

  13. Listen we have adult men using the women’s bathroom during Assembly meetings….security has been notified….nothing happened……

    So p cookies reported to HR required an investigation.

    Do we have to fill out a report to HR about men in the women’s bathroom?

  14. If the penis-shaped cookies had been distributed by the LGBTQ crew during Pride Month, this would have been applauded as stunning and brave. I worked with the person in the article for 15 years in a previous life. This does not sound like something she would do. I’ve been wrong before. I do have a close relative at the muni. She says that this kind of finger-pointing and “whistleblowing” goes on way too much. And we wonder why productivity at the muni is atrocious. Can’t plow the roads because we’re going to too many sensitivity, anti-harassment and DEI trainings…

  15. Anyone else remember the AWWU complaint against Bronson a few months after he took office? The union hit were complaints to Bronson during an inspection visit of toxic fumes. Instead of ignoring the complaints, which is what the union expected, Bronson ordered fluorine into the water turned off. That lasted an hour or so before he found he couldn’t do that, so fluorine was turned back on.

    Instead of having their photo-op of an uncaring and unresponsive Bronson, the union, Assembly and media had a field day going after Bronson for turning the fluorine off for a bit.

    Note that none of the AWWU union droids ever went to the doctor or anyone else with their complaints before or after the incident, convincing me it was a setup.

    Today’s get Bronson? Oddly shaped cookies that HR seemed to take seriously. Cheers –

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