Police confiscate city employee’s gun

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto police have confiscated a utilities employee’s revolver after she sent an email to HR referencing the 1988 workplace shooting of two supervisors in the city utilities department.

Kim Neff, 49, of San Jose, sent the email to Employee Relations Manager Nicholas Raisch on April 23, six days after Raisch told her that the city would be suspending her from work.

“These are the same issues that led to the October 1988 shooting of two su- pervisors by Vladimir (Walter) Kozubov, who then took his own life, being no longer able to tolerate the harassment the management was putting him through,” Neff wrote. “This was in the same building in which I started my own city career.”

Neff told the Post that she didn’t mean to intimidate Raisch or anyone else.

“I’ve never been a threat. I’ve never had any brushes with the law — not one. Not a ticket, not a violation,” Neff said. “The city is trying to destroy everything about me: my reputation, my career, everything.”

Kozubov, who was also 49, carried out the shooting on Oct. 14, 1988, the ninth anniversary of his employment with the city. He shot two supervisors, killing one, and ultimately turned the gun on himself.

Co-workers told the Associated Press at the time that Kozubov had recently returned to work from a leave of absence and seemed “distraught over job-re- lated situations.”

In her email to Raisch, Neff wrote that the 1988 shooting demonstrated that the city had been dysfunctional for decades before she was hired as a utility locator in 2010.

In February, Neff was told that she would be suspended from work for 30 days.

She asked that the suspension proceedings be put on hold so that she could negotiate her resignation from the city, and Raisch agreed.

The separation negotiations broke down, so Raisch emailed Neff on April 17 to tell her that she would be suspended for 30 days after all.

‘Tremendous work-related stress’

Neff told the Post that she is frustrated that city officials seem to want to get rid of her shortly before she is vested with a pension and retirement health benefits at age 50.

“Perhaps HR should consider the much worse implications of my continued mistreatment,” Neff wrote to Raisch.

In the email, Neff also states that it “shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I am under tremendous work-related stress.”

“I have had countless sleepless nights, since there is never a warning before yet another disciplinary action is unleashed,” Neff wrote. “I can never be sure it’s over.”

Neff wrote that after almost five years “of being on a constant roller coaster ride,” she decided to seek help from a doctor for her “cumulative anguish.”

“Then when a DOCTOR puts me out on Workers Comp for stress, HR chooses not to approve worker compensation or short-term disability and takes my entire vacation and sick leave accruals for the time I was out,” Neff wrote. “Then they took $470.21 dollars out of my last paycheck for the 17.72 hours the leave went over my accruals.”

Neff expressed frustration that she had to cancel plans to visit her elderly parents in Southern California or her family in Washington. She also said she was worried about financially scraping by during her 30-day suspension.

Temporary gun violence restraining order

Once she sent the email, Neff was placed on administrative leave and interviewed by police.

After learning that she owned a .357 Smith and Wesson revolver, officers served Neff with a temporary gun violence restraining order at her house in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood around 1 a.m. on April 24. And Neff said police returned to her house yesterday to serve a temporary civil harassment re- straining order to keep her away from Raisch and her supervisors.

Pursuant to the gun violence restraining order, police ordered her last month to either get rid of her gun or hand it in to police.

Neff turned the gun over to Sportsman’s Supply in Campbell and made arrangements for the gun dealer to mail the weapon to Washington State, where her family lives, but police confiscated the weapon from Sportsman’s Supply before it was mailed.

She also owns a .308 Savage Arms AXIS bolt-action rifle and a Remington Model 807 shotgun in Belfair, Wash., a rural area 32 miles outside of Seattle.

Neff told the Post that she owns the revolver for protection at home, noting that she served in the U.S. Army as a light-wheel vehicle mechanic.

‘Consistently and strongly expressed anger’

In a declaration filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, Utility Operations Assistant Director Tomm Marshall wrote that Neff had “consistently and strongly expressed anger and frustration with the utilities department and city of Palo Alto as an employee.”

Marshall added that he believes Neff “lacks self-control and boundaries and poses a threat to the safety of other employees.”

He noted that six years ago, another co-worker allegedly saw Neff repeatedly slamming her car door into the car parked next to her because it was parked too close to her car.

But Neff told the Post that she didn’t hit the man’s car in anger.

She said she was trying to leave work to take a final exam at De Anza College, but a man had parked his car so close to hers that she couldn’t get in the driver’s side. The man refused to let Neff out as he sat in his car and smoked a cigarette, she said.

Utilities Supervisor Leticia Rodriguez wrote in a declaration that Neff “frequently threatens to ‘expose’ certain employees and frequently challenges my authority as her supervisor.”

“It appeared to me that Neff had reached her end point and that she might resort to desperate measures if she does not get what she wants from the city,” Ro- driguez wrote.

Neff told the Post that she has been antagonized by her supervisors for years and has filed complaints with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over safety issues and unequal treatment, but declined to release the written complaints to the Post.

The complaints are still open, Neff said.

The temporary civil harassment restraining order will remain in effect until after a court hearing on May 21. The temporary gun violence restraining order will be lifted after a hearing on May 24.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.