CCRC engineer quits after harassment charges

June 21, 2019

Audience members protested the possible removal of CCRC Engineer Manager Deepak Gupta at the June 5th CCRC meeting. Gupta is pictured at the far left of the picture.

By Pat Maurer

Clare County Road Commission Engineer/Manager Deepak Gupta has reached a settlement with the board and has resigned from the CCRC, a Wednesday post on 9 & 10 News said.

Gupta has been the engineer/manager at the CCRC for the past five years and was recently put on paid administrative leave pending the investigation of a harassment allegation against him.

Wednesday Gupta resigned and signed a severance agreement which stipulates that he will receive $58,000 plus addition funds for unused vacation time and sick leave for a total severance package of $80,000 as part of the agreement.

9 & 10 news posted Tuesday that a CCRC employee, Finance Director and Board Secretary Kimberly Jones, has accused him of “creating a hostile work environment … pitting coworkers against each other” and “spreading rumors.” Reportedly several employees filed complaints which led to the investigation.

Her quote listed on the 9 & 10 news site said, “Because I would speak boldly about something that I know, he didn’t like that and would then go to my coworker and make certain statements that shouldn’t be made,”
Reportedly she said his harassment led to employees seeking counseling or even “going to the hospital for stress related issues.”

Despite overwhelming support for him shown by Clare County Commissioners, township officials and others at the packed meeting of the Clare County Road Commission June 5th, and following a closed session that lasted two hours and thirty-five minutes that Wednesday, a motion was unanimously approved to enter into the settlement negotiations with Gupta, and in another unanimous vote Gupta was placed on paid administrative leave until the settlement and investigation were resolved.
While the CCRC was in closed session June 5th, Gupta said he was unable to comment on the matter and had retained an attorney. He did say, “I’m happy to comment on all issues as soon as I am allowed – if their [the CCRC board’s] investigation results are reported to the board. I’ve always been transparent. Their investigation should be over by now.”

Wednesday in a phone interview, Gupta maintained his innocence and said the allegations of harassment are unfounded and untrue. He said, “I am grateful for the opportunity of being able to serve the Clare County Citizens for the past five years. Hopefully I was able to make a difference for the county and I wish everyone the best.”

Audience members at the Wednesday morning Clare County Board of Commissioners meeting questioned the legality of using the CCRC board attorney to conduct the investigation into the allegations against Gupta, adding that an outside investigator should have been used.

He was instrumental in developing a new paving repair program for the County’s roads.

Since Gupta became the new engineer-manager in 2014, the Clare County Road Commission has been involved in a new “Clare Avenue Experimental Project” using a design called a “Sandwich Seal” to upgrade the old road.

Repairing Old 27 was a real problem since the cost to rebuild a road is estimated at $1.2 million a mile. Former CCRC Chair Mike Duggan and CCRC Engineer Gupta and the road commission staff put their heads together and came up with a solution – a sandwich seal – that would reduce the road improvement costs to $180,000 per mile, saving the road commission $1.1 million a mile, money that could be used for other needed county road repairs.

Duggan said last August, “I’ve lived here for over 50 years, been a board member for 12 years and served as Chairman twice. I challenged our engineering department to come up with an out-of-the-box solution because we simply couldn’t afford $1.2 million per mile to repair Clare Avenue.”
 “This process frees up funds that can be used to preserve the rest of our paved system, Gupta said in an earlier interview. He said “We didn’t have a chip seal program until 2015.”

He said he and the staff worked together to develop the new “sandwich seal” process.

Dugan lost a bid for reelection to the CCRC board last November.

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