By BOB ANEZ/Associated Press Writer
HELENA - State Revenue Director Linda Francis, whose agency reportedly has been plagued by personnel problems and poor morale for months, unexpectedly resigned today.
Although the Martz administration did not immediately issue a statement, The Associated Press learned Francis quit amid criticism of her 10-month tenure that involved employee grievances, firings and resignations.
''It was a volatile atmosphere,'' said Jeff Miller, who said his retirement last Friday after 28 years with the agency was prompted by Francis' mistreatment of employees, including him.
''This wasn't the kind of environment they wanted to work in,'' he said. ''It felt quite vindictive. There was quite a significant fear of retribution. There was concern over what channels you could go to without encountering retribution.''
Miller, who was administrator of performance management and federal liaison, said Francis was prone to outbursts toward employees that were unprofessional and demeaning.
''I'm delighted that she's leaving,'' he said.
Francis, 51, could not be reached for comment today. Her phone listing in Helena had been disconnected.
Tom Schneider, executive director of the Montana Public Employees Association, said his members have reported poor morale among department employees. ''There has been high level of grievances filed,'' he said.
''Her leaving was the best thing that could happen for everybody,'' Schneider said, but he refused to say why he believes that.
''She's resigned. She's leaving,'' he said. ''There's just no reason to go beyond that point.''
Francis, 51, took over the agency last May, replacing Kurt Alme who resigned to work as an assistant U.S. attorney in Billings.
Francis is the 13th Martz administration official to resign in the three years the Republican governor has been in office.
The governor's legal counsel, scheduler, two communications directors, two revenue directors, press secretary, two policy directors, Department of Administration director, special projects director, and both members of the Northwest Power Planning Council have left the administration since January 2001.
Francis came to Montana five years ago as a management systems consultant for the Transportation Department and was hired by the agency.