By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,526 )
Michele Sturgeon, a former city restaurant inspector, acknowledged today that she resigned from her City of Portland position last month. The resignation was effective as of Aug. 23, a date which the city confirmed in an email from Nicole Clegg, city’s spokeswoman. The city is currently looking for a replacement so there will be no gap in the inspection of restaurants, said Clegg in her email. There are two inspectors for the roughly 700 restaurants in Portland.
“I made a choice and I have to stick to it,” Sturgeon said in a telephone call to this blogger. “It was a separation and an amicable one. It was not a good fit,” she said. She said she could not discuss any of the terms of her departure from the city because she could be sued.
Sturgeon became a controversial city employee when she closed down the Porthole Restaurant last fall after an inspection revealed that the long-time drinking hole on the Portland waterfront was mouse infested and had other serious health violations. The Porthole was owned by Oliver Keithley. Sturgeon, to her credit, recommended the drinking establishment be shut down for several weeks to correct the numerous problems. Doug Gardner, Director of the city’s health department, overruled her decision and ordered the drinking spot reopened quickly; some believe prematurely. It was always speculated by many that political and business pressure forced Gardner to counter his health inspector’s decision. No satisfactory response was ever issued by the city as to the reason for this change in direction.
Sturgeon said that she is seeking other employment opportunities. She hopes to open her own restaurant consulting business next year for which she has elaborate plans.
MHN.com has asked the city how many restaurant inspections Sturgeon performed between her return from a medical leave earlier this year and her resignation on Aug. 23. No response has been received yet.
For more background information, please visit City Health Inspector, Sturgeon, No Longer Inspecting Restaurants; “Michelle is doing a great job. If anything needs to be changed, it’s the laws that she’s paid by the city to enforce,” Anonymous, published Nov. 29, 2012.