A top East Palo Alto city official says he is in the process of filing a discrimination complaint against Vice Mayor Peter Evans and the city for creating a hostile work environment for city staff.
The official, Assistant City Manager ML Gordon, alleges that Evans has been allowed to "continuously slander, insult, defame, harass, and create, during public and administrative meetings, a hostile work place environment in the City of East Palo Alto."
In a letter to City Manager Alvin James, Gordon said he feels Evans behavior is a violation of the federal Civil Rights Act and the state Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Gordon said he is seeking a solution other than through a legal action. He is asking that inappropriate behavior "come to an immediate halt" and that he and other employees receive a "public apology for the accusations, insults and intimidation against our personal and professional reputations."
James said he could not comment on the content of the letter because of the pending complaint.
Neither Gordon nor Evans could be reached for comment.
"In over 27 years of serving the public, in various jurisdictions and with all due respect, I have never witnessed such a hostile work environment, where a public official is so degrading of character, and disrespectful toward the skills, expertise and worth of some administrative staff," Gordon wrote.
James said Gordon has worked for East Palo Alto for about two years, since about the time Evans was elected to the council.
"It is so out of control now," Councilwoman Pat Foster said of Evans' behavior. "We are not able to do the city's business."
Evans is a former member of the East Palo Alto Sanitary District Board, but voters recalled him in 1994. He was later re-elected to the board, but was censured by a majority of the board in 1999 for throwing a cup of coffee at a lawyer during a meeting.
Evans, who has been highly critical of the city government, used to sit in the back of the room and yell at the council if he didn't like what people were saying.
He was elected to the council in 2004 and elected vice mayor by his colleagues for 2006.