BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Former Los Alamos Golf Course manager Sam Logan has filed suit in First judicial District Court against Los Alamos County for alleged violations of the New Mexico Whistleblower Act.
The complaint states that Logan, “with 15 years PGA-level experience in managing, operating and marketing of several world class golf course enterprises internationally and having participated in management of nine PGA Tour events,” was hired by Los Alamos County as golf course manager in May 2016.
Logan’s supervisor was Brian Brogan, Community Services Department Director. The suit alleges that the two first got at odds when Logan closed the golf course in December when the ground temperature dropped below 30 degrees. Logan maintained that the U.S. Golf Association advises that winter play kills the grass at golf courses and that the LAC golf course agronomist concurred. The suit says Logan was aware that winter play in previous years had caused “substantial damage” to the golf course.
Although there were some days where the daytime temperatures rose to 50 degrees, the suit says the temperatures still dipped well below 30 degrees at night and below what is recommended for play. It says Logan’s decision caused “much concern” among some members of the Los Alamos Golf Association and they complained to Brogan and Los Alamos County Council.
“Despite intense pressure from Brogan to open the golf course to winter play which would have been gross mismanagement of a significant Los Alamos County asset, Logan kept the golf course closed saving the grass for the primary golf season of May to September. While standing his ground regarding the closure, Brogan lambasted Logan for not acceding to the LAGA’s desire to open the golf course despite the damage it would have caused,” the suit says. “Brogan finally ordered Logan to open the golf course including the use of golf carts in mid-February. As a result, several holes were damaged for most of the regular playing season.”
The suit alleges that beginning in April, Logan had some issues with payment for passes by Brogan at the golf course including paying for nine holes and playing 18 holes or more. Logan claims he spoke to his direct supervisor, Chris Wilson, who asked him to write up an incident and that he, Wilson, would take the report to Human Resources. Logan was not happy with the Human Resources response.
“Theft and abuse of position and power were totally disregarded by Los Alamos County regarding Director Brogan. Brogan was clearly aware that Logan had been the person that had reported the situation to Los Alamos County Human Resources,” the suit says.
It claims that in May there were issues pertaining to Brogan’s refusal to approve compensatory or “comp” time during a period when the golf course was short staffed. Logan alleges there were also issues with overtime and comp time at other County facilities. Brogan and Logan allegedly met with Deputy County Manager Steve Lynne to discuss the overtime and comp time issues. The suit alleges that Brogan eventually told Logan that he would run his department the way he wanted regardless of Los Alamos County policies.
On June 11, the suit says Brogan told Logan he was being investigated for “possible violations” and the results could end in termination.
“The allegations included Logan’s relocation/moving into one of the small guest houses on the golf course premises even though the use of such houses had historically and consistently been made by golf course and recreation department staff and the proper paperwork was processed,” the suit claims.
On June 14, Logan filed an official complaint against Brogan for “retaliation, hostile work environment, harassment and disclosure of confidential information. On June 18, Logan took sick leave “due to his declining physical and mental state”. When he returned to work July 9 and was served with the County’s notice of intended action – termination. He was terminated July 23.
The suit says the “outrageous and extreme conduct” caused Logan to suffer “loss of past, present and future income and benefits, damage to his reputation and future prospects of employment and advancement as well as emotional distress, shame, humiliation, embarrassment and stress.
No response to the complaint has yet been filed by the County and County Attorney Alvin Leaphart does not comment on pending litigation.