Henderson councilwoman’s husband quietly quits city job

Good jobs are hard to find in a tough economy. So Glenn Schroder must have been pleased back in January when he was hired as a housing specialist with the city of Henderson.

Funded under a federal grant, the job mostly entailed weatherizing homes with window stripping and insulation. Although it was technically a temporary position, he earned $24.17 per hour and worked a full-time schedule.

The job was considered temporary, but it’s not because they didn’t trust Schroder’s references.

He is the husband of Henderson City Councilwoman Gerri Schroder. The offer and acceptance would lead even an amateur skeptic to shout favoritism.

The job falls under Henderson’s Neighborhood Services Division. The position wasn’t posted, but Henderson City Manager Jacob Snow says it didn’t have to be because it was technically a temporary position. Snow defends Schroder’s hiring and adds that his manager’s duties allow him to make such decisions.

“We did hire Glenn Schroder,” Snow said. “I think he was hired in early January. He was hired as a housing specialist, and that is a temporary position.”

Of course, some folks might be led to conclude that hiring Schroder on a temporary basis was a clever way to circumvent the city’s rules about publicly posting full-time positions. On June 24, Schroder’s job was declared a full-time position, making him eligible for benefits.

Snow and Councilwoman Schroder described the hire in innocent terms and said there was no decision to get around the job posting provision.

An attempt to reach Glenn Schroder was unsuccessful, but his wife gave a brief interview. The councilwoman said she was unaware her husband had applied for or been under consideration for the job. Although that scenario would lead some to suspect there’s a communications problem at the Schroder house, it must have made a nice surprise when he came home with the good news.

Exactly how the councilwoman’s husband was offered the job remains confusing to me. Although she said the offer came directly from Snow without her knowledge, the city manager explained the initial contact came from Henderson Human Resources Director Fred Horvath.

For his part, Horvath explained during a group phone interview that he had learned of Glenn Schroder’s unemployment status and thought he might be a good fit for the housing specialist job. The two had an interview over breakfast, and afterward Horvath informed Snow, who made the final decision.

Gerri Schroder deflected criticism of the hire, adding that it wasn’t something she sought or even considered. Apparently this was a case of serendipitous patronage.

“We didn’t ask for any job at all,” she said. It just sort of happened.

“He was treated like any other employee,” Snow said.

Although she insists she didn’t know about the hire until after he applied for the job, she would also have to admit that such a coincidence might look bad ­— especially considering her position as a member of the Workforce Connections Board. That’s right. It’s her role to help the unemployed find work.

“I want to find jobs for other people, but I leave my husband out of that,” Schroder said. “I never, ever tried to help him get a job. I knew about the perception.”

As swiftly and quietly as it appeared, Glenn Schroder’s job was gone.

Officials received his letter of resignation Sept. 16.

The letter was placed in his personnel file, which Snow said isn’t public. Councilwoman Schroder demurred when asked for the reason her husband resigned.

Officials denied they had heard a single question or complaint about the hiring of the councilwoman’s husband until my recent inquiry.

But speaking of insulation, by being unaware of the hire, the councilwoman has weatherized herself from some chilly political winds and a possible ethics investigation.

Anyone hoping to apply for that Henderson housing specialist’s position will be disappointed.

After Schroder’s resignation, the full-time job was appropriately posted and is already filled.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at jsmith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295.

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