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Published: Sunday, 3/20/2005

TURMOIL AT THE TOLEDO ZOO

Hard-boiled consultant gets mixed reviews

BY STEVE EDER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Consultant Scott Warrick urged voters in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, to oust officials who criticized his work quality. Consultant Scott Warrick urged voters in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, to oust officials who criticized his work quality.
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Scott Warrick sells his human resources consulting services by proclaiming that he knows something about "solving employee problems before they happen."

Mr. Warrick, an attorney who runs his own consulting business from the Columbus suburb of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, has more than 20 years of human resources experience and a lengthy list of clients.

Last year, the Toledo Zoo retained Mr. Warrick to assess workplace issues throughout the zoo, especially in the mammal department. He billed the zoo $145 an hour, receiving $11,915 last year. The zoo contracted with him this year, approving a $15,000 contract with him.

The zoo terminated its contract with Mr. Warrick Friday after reporters began asking questions about the tactics he used with zoo employees, including Dr. Tim Reichard, who was fired Feb. 28 after being the zoo's head veterinarian for the past 22 years.

Mr. Warrick had a run-in with Dr. Reichard on Aug. 27, 2004, when he gave the veterinarian a written warning and threatened the veterinarian with immediate termination. Mr. Warrick then sent Dr. Reichard a seven-page memo through Zoo Chief Operating Officer Robert Harden for complaining to zoo officials about the warning.

"These comments constitute slander, and if you spread such untruths, either inside or outside of the workplace, your employment with the zoo will end," Mr. Warrick told Dr. Reichard.

Sheri Caldwell, director of human resources for the zoo who suggested that Mr. Warrick be hired, gave Mr. Warrick praise on his Web site, www.scottwarrick.com.

"Scott has been wonderful to work with and is the consummate professional," she said.

Other clients, including Larry Boyce, the director of human resources for Washington Township, Ohio, called Mr. Warrick a "top-notch presenter, advice giver, and soothsayer!"

"We call him on all the tough stuff," Mr. Boyce wrote.

Mr. Warrick's brutally honest and straightforward style, though, has caused him to tangle with other clients. Earlier this year, members of the Reynoldsburg City Council butted heads with Mr. Warrick after he prepared a report for the mayor about the city's human resources department.

"I thought it was the poorest excuse for a scientific report that I have ever seen in my life," Reynoldsburg Councilman Antoinette Newman was quoted in ThisWeek, a Reynoldburg newspaper. "It was just a farce. ... It looked to me like he based some of what he said on gossip."

In response to comments from Reynoldsburg council comments, Mr. Warrick sent an e-mail to hundreds of city residents, in which he called city council's reaction to his report "the most disgusting and vicious attack I have ever experienced in over 20 years public sector or private."

He urged city residents to vote for a new city council.

Mr. Warrick has a master's degree in labor and human resources from Ohio State University, and a law degree from Capital University College of Law, according to the biography posted on his Web site. He was valedictorian of his law school class, his biography says.

Contact Steve Eder at: seder@theblade.com or 419-724-6728.



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