Cramer deal back on table

by Tom Coombe -

A dispute between the Ely City Council and the city’s former zoning administrator appears to have been resolved - this time for good.
For the second time in several months, Gregg Cramer had a change of heart and has accepted a settlement agreement that gives him more than $10,000 in severance pay in exchange for his voluntary resignation.
Cramer signed the deal Mar. 13 and city council members followed suit Tuesday during a brief regular meeting.
The agreement mirrors what Cramer accepted late last year before he changed his mind and opted to take his case to arbitration.
“It’s the same in terms of content of what’s been proposed previously,” said City attorney Kelly Klun.
With a Mar. 28 arbitration date looming, Cramer opted to move ahead with the deal. He was not present for the council session and Klun did not elaborate on any discussions between the two parties.
The deal caps a bizarre saga that started last fall, when Cramer was fired by the city council for using a city-owned computer and software to do private work for Incredible Ely.
Cramer cried foul, and a subsequent mediation session involving he and his union representatives on one side and city officials on the other produced an agreement.
It wiped out the council decision to fire Cramer and allowed the half-time employee to resign, effective Sept. 27. Terms included a one-time severance payment of $5,983, as well as payment of $4,682 for accrued vacation and sick pay.
Perhaps most notably, the agreement requires the city to “withdraw the employment-related allegations it made against the employee.”
While city officials said in September that Cramer improperly and perhaps illegally used a city computer and software to prepare maps for a project commissioned by Incredible Ely, the agreement now in the books wipes the slate clan.
The settlement stated that the “parties acknowledge that there was a misunderstanding between the city of Ely and Gregg Cramer. The ratification of this settlement agreement does not indicate by either party an admission of guilt nor that the employee engaged in dishonest behavior during his employment.”
Council member Heidi Omerza, who filled in as acting mayor Tuesday while Chuck Novak lobbied in Washington, D.C. for copper-nickel mining projects, read a portion of the settlement agreement including a paragraph indicating the city has withdrawn allegations of wrongdoing.
The case involved several city officials who wore multiple hats.
Cramer admitted doing private work for a business owned by then-city council member Kara Polyner,
According to Cramer’s testimony as well as an information packet released by the city, he used a computer and software owned by the city to prepare maps for an informational kiosk project sponsored by Incredible Ely, a private organization whose board members included Polyner, Cramer and Omerza, as well as Klun as the group’s program manager.
Polyner has since resigned from Incredible Ely and Cramer was subsequently removed from the board.
City officials have said they were unaware that Cramer was using city resources for a private job. He was hired as a subcontractor by Polyner’s Ely Design Works, which was selected by Incredible Ely to design and build informational kiosks that will be placed at Ely’s Whiteside Park.
Cramer was put on paid leave Sept. 12, after admitting to clerk-treasurer Harold Langowski that he was using a city computer for the job.
While Cramer claimed Langowski had given his approval, the city’s top administrator disagreed and said he was under the impression that the employee was providing an in-kind service to Incredible Ely, rather than doing private work for pay for a business.
Incredible Ely voted Sept. 2 to hire Ely Design Works and pay the firm $4,395 for the kiosk project, with Cramer listed as a paid subcontractor for the initiative.
Langowski told the council that the work Cramer completed, for which he was to be paid $450 by Ely Design Works, has been unable to be retrieved from city computers.