CVB Board Votes To Offer Fischang Executive Director's Job After Investigating CA Issues, Reports
Despite some lingering questions about the reasons surrounding the departure of Ken Fischang from his former position as president/CEO of the Sonoma County Tourism (CA) bureau, the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) voted Tuesday to officially offer him its executive director’s position.
CVB Board Chair Andrew Milaukas said local board members - and search committee members - performed due diligence and did their best to look into reports that Fischang had been placed on administrative leave from his former job for alleged financial improprieties shortly before he resigned from there and accepted a Letter of Intent to hire him for the Saugatuck-Douglas CVB post.
“We’ve done everything we could do to (research and investigate) all this, but the board feels he will do a great job for us…and nothing was provided us that proves he did anything seriously wrong,” Milauckas told The Local Observer.
A California newspaper reported in May that Fischang was placed on administrative leave by the Sonoma County Tourism bureau by its board officials after they reviewed findings of a Sonoma County government audit that revealed questionable financial issues involving Fischang and his former staff.
Sonoma County Tourism Chair Joe Bartolomei sent an email to reporter Derek Moore of the Santa Rosas Press Democrat - and reportedly others - stating: “I wanted to get back to you in regards to Ken’s departure, as of Wednesday, May 10, Ken was placed on paid administrative leave. The following Friday (May 12), we received his resignation. Tim Zahner has been appointed interim CEO.”
The Local Observer obtained a copy of the Bartolomei email.
But after reportedly signing a severance agreement with Sonoma Tourism Bureau officials, Bartolomei and other board members - on advice of legal counsel, he told The Local Observer - refused to discuss any of the issues, financial or administrative, that reportedly led to Fischang’s being put on administrative leave.
After his May 12 resignation, Fischang has told local CVB officials and others he was never placed on administrative leave by his former employer.
The entire matter caused concern among some local CVB officials who insisted the matter be investigated further, including hiring a lawyer to research exactly what happened.
Milauckas told The Local Observer the lawyer was unable to discover any new information that would cause the local CVB board to rescind its job offer to Fischang.
During the past few weeks as the local CVB conducted its probe, Fischang posted on his Facebook Page and told several people that he had been hired by the CVB as its new executive director and would start work there soon despite the fact that CVB officials said they had not made a formal offer of the position to him while their investigation was under way.
Asked about this issue, Milauckus called Fischang’s statements “inappropriate” but not serious enough to warrant not formally hiring him.
As to what Fischang will be paid if he accepts the CVB’s formal job offer to be its executive director, Milauckas said the amount was still under consideration and therefore not appropriate to discuss publicly at this time.
A request by The Loal Observer to Milauckas to ask Fischang if he would agree to an interview was not responded to by press time.
Fischang is reportedly building a home about an hour distance south of the Saugatuck area with his life partner and children at this time.
“I’ve also gone back and forth on this issue (whether to hire Fischang)… but it’s time to move forward now,” said CVB member Jane Verplank.
Milauckas said many people contacted in California and Michigan (where he formerly worked in the Kalamazoo area several years ago before taking the Sonoma position) that knew Fischang gave him high marks for professionalism.