Haines Borough Manager David Sosa issued a statement Wednesday that community and economic development director Bill Mandeville had resigned, but that came as news to Mandeville, who said the two had agreed that he would return to work.

Mandeville said he and Sosa met Tuesday to discuss what Mandeville described as a “verbal assault” in his office.

In an email sent to Sosa Tuesday, Mandeville described a Monday afternoon incident where chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart “barged into my office and proceeded to yell and scream at me. She yelled and screamed at me for roughly five minutes.”

The confrontation physically affected him by prompting an episode of vertigo, Mandeville said. The blow-up, he said, stemmed from an email about the proposed cruise ship waiver initiative, in which Mandeville claimed Stuart opposed the program.

Mandeville said he spoke with Sosa Tuesday morning about the incident and sent Sosa the email at 9 a.m. detailing the incident at Sosa’s request. In the email, Mandeville gave his resignation.

“If you want me to return to work, then you will need to provide me some assurance that these types of verbal assaults will not happen again. I have some suggestions that I would be glad to discuss with you,” Mandeville wrote.

Sosa responded to Mandeville’s email at 11:45 a.m., saying he was “working to obtain witness statements” of the incident and that he had contacted the borough attorney. “I would be open to hearing your suggestions on recommendations to resolve the matter. Until such time as the matter is resolved, I am issuing a no-contact directive to Ms. Stuart,” Sosa wrote.

Sosa called Mandeville and asked him to come in at 4 p.m., Mandeville said. At the meeting, Mandeville said the “no contact directive” seemed a bit excessive and he was hoping Sosa would write a letter of reprimand or something along those lines.

“We had an agreement that I would come back to work in the morning and instead I got to work and he said he accepted my resignation,” Mandeville said.

“He said it was a problem in leadership, which I don’t quite understand. If you look at the things that I have accomplished over the past four months – I’ve only been here for four months – I couldn’t do that without good leadership. So I don’t quite understand what he was talking about there,” Mandeville said.

Sosa said in an interview Wednesday evening that he left the meeting with the understanding that Mandeville’s resignation was still on the table. “I take any communication from a borough employee seriously, and Mr. Mandeville stated in a letter that he was resigning and that is the way the matter went,” Sosa said.

“I had not requested it. I had not expected it. But he chose to provide it,” Sosa said of the resignation.The resignation is effective immediately.

Sosa declined to comment on whether or not he told Mandeville there was “a problem in leadership.”

“I’m not going to get into personal conversations I had with an employee,” he said.

Sosa said he is investigating Mandeville’s complaint about the altercation. “I agreed with (Mandeville’s) ideas for action that needed to be taken with regard to some training for the borough and potential action with regard to the employee that is involved,” Sosa said.

Stuart declined comment, citing Sosa’s directive to refer all media inquiries to the manager.

In an interview Wednesday evening, Mandeville said he was having job issues before the Monday incident. Mandeville said he had “philosophical issues” with Sosa and his management style.

For example, Mandeville was asked by Talk Around Town host Debra Schnabel to speak on the radio program about the cruise ship waiver program. Mandeville said he felt uncomfortable going on the show because people would think he was representing the borough’s position on the waiver program, when Sosa or the assembly hasn’t expressed an opinion one way or the other.

Mandeville then suggested to Sosa via email that Sosa or a Tourism Advisory Board member go on the show instead. Mandeville said he didn’t receive a response from Sosa, something that happened frequently.

“He doesn’t get involved in that. Instead it seems like what he likes to do is have his lieutenants duke it out and then he picks the winner,” Mandeville said.

“One of the things that that kind of management style causes is stuff like what happened on Monday. Again, it’s not a collegial relationship. It’s not a relationship based on teamwork. It’s not one that’s based on trying to solve problems,” Mandeville said.

Another clash occurred recently when a business contacted the borough with a request about sewer rates. The rate a sewer customer pays is calculated based on how much water they use. The business argued that it was using large volumes of water that didn’t end up going back into the system in the form of sewage, and that something might be worked out to where they weren’t paying for a service they weren’t using.

Instead of trying to work with the business, Mandeville said, borough staff wasn’t responsive. When Mandeville tried to work something out, they accused him of trying to craft a sweetheart deal with the business, he said.

“They kept giving me crap like, ‘Well you know if you do it for (that business), then you have to do it for everybody.’ And I said, ‘Right. You should, because if everybody is paying for stuff they aren’t using or don’t need, we shouldn’t be doing that,’” Mandeville said.

It got to the point where issues became Mandeville’s approach versus the borough’s approach, he said.

“I think it’s fair to say we just have a difference in philosophy as far as what local government is supposed to do and how it is supposed to behave,” Mandeville said. “As they pointed out last week, there’s Haines Borough and there is Bill Mandeville. I started challenging (Sosa’s) authority on a lot of these kinds of things and I think we probably both got tired of it, and when I resigned he decided, ‘Aha! Here is my chance to get rid of this pest.’”

Mandeville came to Haines from Washington state, where he had worked for the Department of Commerce since 2006.

Mandeville has been working on several major economic development projects, including the Mosquito Lake agriculture project, expansion of the American Bald Eagle Foundation, the cruise ship waiver program and the wood pellet boiler Alaska Energy Authority grant.

When he took the job in Haines, Mandeville said he envisioned it as his “last hurrah before I settle down and work on my garden and take care of my grandkids.” He said he saw his time in Haines as a chance to “do something significant to a neat town,” and to create jobs and help the town become more sustainable.

Mandeville said he and his wife will return to Tumwater, Wash. Before that, they will take a two-week vacation to visit their children and grandchildren.