Two resignations that happened with two days or each other, a rejected time off request - deemed "insubordinate", and accusations of a caustic work environment have led the City of Superior into very public drama at City Hall. It's also led to an official letter of reprimand for the City Clerk.

Superior City Clerk Camila Ramos was issued the letter of reprimand on January 19 by Mayor Jim Paine. In the city directive, the Mayor spelled out the accusations against the way that Ramos was running her department.  According to details in the Superior Telegram [paywall]:

"[t]he letter was issued after repeated efforts to counsel Ramos since May [2022] about the culture in her office and noted several policy violations, including subordination after disregarding a directive from the Mayor."

The issue was initiated when Superior Deputy Clerk Stephanie Becken tendered her letter of resignation within half a year of joining the City Clerk department. During questioning by the city, various elements came to light - including hostility and allegations of racism by Ramos, her supervisor:

"Becken testified to a work environment in which she was called a 'kiss-ass' by Ramos when other city staff complimented her work.  She said Ramos credited her [Becken's] successes with residents and vendors to the fact that she was white and had a white-sounding name when Ramos struggled with those same people."

There was also a very public moment when Becken accused Ramos of yelling at staff for "20 minutes....about how we were ungrateful and demanding what we expected her to do".

Not long afterward - 48 hours later to be exact - City Clerk Assistant Johanna Rowell offered her resignation. That resignation came after an encounter where "Ramos cornered her in a hall". Rowell claims that Ramos "had a big smile on her face and asked me 'Aren't you happy'? She said she thought things would be so much better without the deputy in the way."

But allegations show that the problems continued, even after the first two resignations.

Heidi Blunt was hired to replace Becken as the Deputy Clerk. Almost immediately, she too noticed the way that Ramos treated both staff and the general public - suggesting that Ramos' "inappropriately" treated those around her.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine stepped into the situation around this time. Blunt turned in a vacation request that would have occurred during the February primary election.  Ramos denied the request. Mayor Paine in turn directed Ramos to approve the request of her staffer. Ramos once again denied the vacation request.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

That denial -  against the directive of the Mayor - instigated the official letter of reprimand process. That letter also brought the city's Human Resource department into the situation.

The letter of reprimand also spurred City Clerk Camila Ramos into a request for a "public hearing to appeal". That public hearing happened on March 8. During the four hour hearing, "testimony from employees past and present" were entered into the record.

During the hearing, Superior Human Resource Director Cammi Janigo suggested of Ramos' behavior that "[i]n her mind it was their [the staffers] fault.  Janigo said that she was "mortified about how they were treated" and she was "shocked that Ramos didn't take responsibility for it".

Superior Mayor Jim Paine also testified during the hearing. Paine said:

"As the Human Resources Director told you, we have grounds for termination  I have spent the last month and a half in extreme regret that we haven't pursued that path after having to watch these women endure this again....To be called liars in a public meeting for just trying to tell the truth for no reward. They were punished, humiliated in public, for trying to help the city, to protect the city from a supervisor that is abusive and disruptive to the work that we are trying to do here."

Ramos also testified at her review hearing. She offered that what was happening to her was "no different" from what she was being accused of and reprimanded for.  Ramos said:

"Where does that leave me? Existing forever in fear that my subordinate would report me to the Mayor every time she disagreed with me or vice versa. What kind of power was that to give to someone?"

Following the four hours of testimony and an additional hour of deliberation, the City of Superior's Human Resources Committee voted to affirm that the letter of reprimand from the Mayor would stand.

Camila Ramos first came to the City Clerks position in July 2021, following the retirement of Terri Kalan. She originally joined the city as a temporary employee in 2016.

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