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City manager accuses critic of stalking

City Manager Terry Leary has accused former council member and city watchdog Earnest Olsen of stalking and harassment.

Leary, whose personal telephone calls and City Hall decorating judgments were questioned by Olsen at Monday night's council meeting, said Tuesday she has asked the city police to investigate Olsen's activities.

"I'm afraid of him and I'm not going to let this rest," she said.

Police Chief Roger Krieger confirmed that Leary had requested an investigation about a week and a half ago. That investigation is continuing.

Leary said Olsen has watched her movements, has taken down license plate numbers of vehicles in her driveway, has watched her house, has complained to council members about Leary arriving late for work and has made threatening comments in letters to her.

Olsen denies ever threatening her, watching her house or keeping track of her working time.

He acknowledged that he has reviewed city telephone and other expense records. Olsen says his focus has been to be sure that residents get full value for their tax dollars.

Leary said her concern stems from Olsen's references to an altercation between Leary and a former fiance before she came to Crystal River and from what she perceives as his watching her.

"I am a woman and I am alone and I am not happy about this situation," she said.

She said the situation makes an already difficult job even more complex. "This job is hard enough," Leary said. "I've got to deal with the politics and all the things that have to get done. I don't need this nut case following me around.

"I think that I can show the state attorney's office that this is personal. It isn't just somebody worrying about how the city's money is being spent."

Olsen said he has not followed her and doesn't understand why she is afraid of him. "She certainly has nothing to fear from me," he said.

As a council member and as a private citizen, Olsen has made a habit of scrutinizing city spending. His inquiry into former City Manager Wallace Payne in the mid-1980s resulted in Payne's indictment for falsified expense documents.

Olsen also has criticized personal use of city equipment by city managers, department managers and other employees.

Monday night, he told the council that his search through city phone bills _ which he said looked like "a travel agency" _ indicates that since Leary took the job in late October, she has spent more than five hours on long-distance calls that may have been personal.

Though she had reimbursed the city for most of those calls, he identified about $35 worth of calls that Leary had not paid for.

He also criticized her use of a city check to buy city and personal items at the Ocala Sam's Club several months ago.

Olsen questioned Leary's office decorating costs when City Hall moved several months ago. He said the new decorating scheme cost the city more than $500 for wallpaper alone.

In response, the council asked why Olsen hadn't worked out his concerns with Leary privately rather than bringing them up before the council to cause bad publicity for the city.

"Wouldn't it have been better to file a written report?" asked Mayor Curtis Rich. "Wouldn't it have been better if it had been directed . . . in some way rather than to do it in a way to put it in the newspapers?"

Council member Sharon Weaver asked if Olsen hadn't spent more city tax dollars seeking records than he was talking about dollars spent by Leary.

"I don't think this city needs any more bad publicity," said council member Levi Phillips.

On Tuesday, Leary said the additional $35 in calls were for legitimate city business, asking officials in towns she has worked about information and ordinances that could be used in Crystal River.

She also noted that she had reimbursed the city for other personal items bought at the Sam's Club.

He said he wasn't surprised that the council reacted to his concerns as it did Monday.

"The mayor was more interested in sweeping things under the carpet and censorship than he was in the problem," Olsen said. "And Levi seems to wield a pretty wicked whitewash brush."