News

All-oral probe dodges public-records law, vice mayor alleges

Documentation of investigations varies, city attorney says -- despite new instructions in consultant's contract

An outside investigator hired this summer to analyze three harassment complaints against a high-ranking City of Palo Alto manager was instructed in his contract to deliver an oral rather than a written report -- a requirement some insiders have called an attempt to circumvent state public-records laws.

"I think this is an attempt to do an end-run around (the state's Public Records Act), and I don't agree with that," Vice Mayor Larry Klein said Wednesday.

Klein, who chairs the Council Appointed Officers (CAO) Committee of the City Council, said he was informed of the paperless investigation several weeks ago by City Manager Frank Benest.

"I think it is a far better practice to have written reports in serious situations," Klein said.

Council members Peter Drekmeier and John Barton, also members of the CAO Committee, said they were also told about the no-document instructions recently. The final member of the committee, Dena Mossar, said she wasn't notified.

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"It's a challenging issue," Drekmeier said, noting that he hasn't determined his position yet.

"Some people are concerned that if there is a record, then it gets into the newspaper the person who is filing the complaint -- as well as the person who is receiving the complaint. It makes their lives very challenging," Drekmeier said.

City Attorney Gary Baum said no current policy exists specifying whether investigative reports should be written or oral. And both he and City Manager Frank Benest maintain the city hasn't instituted a new policy or practice.

"Virtually all allegations are investigated. Whether that's been in writing or not, that varies," Baum said Wednesday.

Asking for an oral report is "not abnormal," Benest said Thursday. "It really depends on the circumstances of any particular case."

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Even city investigations that use outside investigators vary, Benest said -- some produce documentation; others don't.

Both Benest and Baum emphasized the city conducts many investigations at all levels of the 1,074-employee organization.

Assistant City Attorney Don Larkin said the reason this summer's investigation didn't have a paper report was to save money. The investigation had cost $8,940.50 as of Oct. 16, Larkin said.

He said earlier that the contract with an outside investigator hired two years ago to look into a report of city utilities employees "moonlighting" in Menlo Park -- initially believed to be a minor investigation -- had no such "oral report first" clause.

In this summer's case, the city hired David Reuben, of Davis-based DR Associates International, on June 13 to investigate complaints against the high-ranking employee.

The contract instructs Reuben to provide an oral report and to only provide a written report if requested by the city to do so, in writing.

"If all of the allegations subject to your investigation are unfounded or if the investigated party is exonerated, the City may elect not to request a written report," the contract states.

One complainant in the investigation told the Weekly she was told "that nothing would be put on paper."

Another complainant said she was told why the investigation was being conducted orally.

The investigator said to her that he "was told not to write stuff down because the press could get it. If they documented anything, then they would have to give it to the press," she said.

"There is no written report because they didn't want the press to get a hold of it," she said.

The Weekly learned of the harassment allegations via an anonymous letter in late September. A Public Records Act request by the Weekly for documents relating to the investigation was denied by the city Oct. 10.

"We can assure you that no investigation report exists that sustained charges of misconduct, including sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment or unfair practices," Larkin wrote.

In 2006, a Weekly lawsuit forced the city to release documents relating to Utilities Department investigation, which resulted in the discipline of 19 employees. That investigation ballooned from a single moonlighting incident (in which employees worked on a private job while on city payroll and with city equipment) to a $300,000 probe that ultimately cost the utilities director and two department supervisors their jobs.

Baum cited that suit last April when he released a report from the investigation of Assistant City Manager Emily Harrison for harassment and other inappropriate behavior.

"If we have a written report, we have to turn it over," Klein said, adding that the law is clear based on the ruling on the Weekly's lawsuit.

This time, Benest decided to circumvent the requirement by keeping the investigation paperless, Klein said.

Klein said "somewhere down the line" the council will discuss the issue.

Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto also said she thought the council should establish a policy governing documentation of investigations.

"How can we be as open as possible with the public and let them know what's happening while balancing that with the legal, personnel and confidentiality issues and the need to create an environment where employees won't be afraid to talk to an investigator?" Kishimoto said.

"I know there has to be some middle road there."

The subject of the recent investigation remains employed by the city.

Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson said names of complainants or other witnesses would never be published unless there are special circumstances, such as if the complainant in an investigation agreed or wanted to be named or filed a lawsuit or other form of public complaint. He said that is a longstanding policy of the Weekly and a tenet of responsible journalism.

The policy is designed so as not to "chill" an investigation, and if any officials are warning employees their names could appear in print if they report something then that is erroneous, he said.

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All-oral probe dodges public-records law, vice mayor alleges

Documentation of investigations varies, city attorney says -- despite new instructions in consultant's contract

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 19, 2007, 5:42 pm

An outside investigator hired this summer to analyze three harassment complaints against a high-ranking City of Palo Alto manager was instructed in his contract to deliver an oral rather than a written report -- a requirement some insiders have called an attempt to circumvent state public-records laws.

"I think this is an attempt to do an end-run around (the state's Public Records Act), and I don't agree with that," Vice Mayor Larry Klein said Wednesday.

Klein, who chairs the Council Appointed Officers (CAO) Committee of the City Council, said he was informed of the paperless investigation several weeks ago by City Manager Frank Benest.

"I think it is a far better practice to have written reports in serious situations," Klein said.

Council members Peter Drekmeier and John Barton, also members of the CAO Committee, said they were also told about the no-document instructions recently. The final member of the committee, Dena Mossar, said she wasn't notified.

"It's a challenging issue," Drekmeier said, noting that he hasn't determined his position yet.

"Some people are concerned that if there is a record, then it gets into the newspaper the person who is filing the complaint -- as well as the person who is receiving the complaint. It makes their lives very challenging," Drekmeier said.

City Attorney Gary Baum said no current policy exists specifying whether investigative reports should be written or oral. And both he and City Manager Frank Benest maintain the city hasn't instituted a new policy or practice.

"Virtually all allegations are investigated. Whether that's been in writing or not, that varies," Baum said Wednesday.

Asking for an oral report is "not abnormal," Benest said Thursday. "It really depends on the circumstances of any particular case."

Even city investigations that use outside investigators vary, Benest said -- some produce documentation; others don't.

Both Benest and Baum emphasized the city conducts many investigations at all levels of the 1,074-employee organization.

Assistant City Attorney Don Larkin said the reason this summer's investigation didn't have a paper report was to save money. The investigation had cost $8,940.50 as of Oct. 16, Larkin said.

He said earlier that the contract with an outside investigator hired two years ago to look into a report of city utilities employees "moonlighting" in Menlo Park -- initially believed to be a minor investigation -- had no such "oral report first" clause.

In this summer's case, the city hired David Reuben, of Davis-based DR Associates International, on June 13 to investigate complaints against the high-ranking employee.

The contract instructs Reuben to provide an oral report and to only provide a written report if requested by the city to do so, in writing.

"If all of the allegations subject to your investigation are unfounded or if the investigated party is exonerated, the City may elect not to request a written report," the contract states.

One complainant in the investigation told the Weekly she was told "that nothing would be put on paper."

Another complainant said she was told why the investigation was being conducted orally.

The investigator said to her that he "was told not to write stuff down because the press could get it. If they documented anything, then they would have to give it to the press," she said.

"There is no written report because they didn't want the press to get a hold of it," she said.

The Weekly learned of the harassment allegations via an anonymous letter in late September. A Public Records Act request by the Weekly for documents relating to the investigation was denied by the city Oct. 10.

"We can assure you that no investigation report exists that sustained charges of misconduct, including sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment or unfair practices," Larkin wrote.

In 2006, a Weekly lawsuit forced the city to release documents relating to Utilities Department investigation, which resulted in the discipline of 19 employees. That investigation ballooned from a single moonlighting incident (in which employees worked on a private job while on city payroll and with city equipment) to a $300,000 probe that ultimately cost the utilities director and two department supervisors their jobs.

Baum cited that suit last April when he released a report from the investigation of Assistant City Manager Emily Harrison for harassment and other inappropriate behavior.

"If we have a written report, we have to turn it over," Klein said, adding that the law is clear based on the ruling on the Weekly's lawsuit.

This time, Benest decided to circumvent the requirement by keeping the investigation paperless, Klein said.

Klein said "somewhere down the line" the council will discuss the issue.

Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto also said she thought the council should establish a policy governing documentation of investigations.

"How can we be as open as possible with the public and let them know what's happening while balancing that with the legal, personnel and confidentiality issues and the need to create an environment where employees won't be afraid to talk to an investigator?" Kishimoto said.

"I know there has to be some middle road there."

The subject of the recent investigation remains employed by the city.

Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson said names of complainants or other witnesses would never be published unless there are special circumstances, such as if the complainant in an investigation agreed or wanted to be named or filed a lawsuit or other form of public complaint. He said that is a longstanding policy of the Weekly and a tenet of responsible journalism.

The policy is designed so as not to "chill" an investigation, and if any officials are warning employees their names could appear in print if they report something then that is erroneous, he said.

Comments

Not so fast
Charleston Gardens
on Oct 19, 2007 at 9:49 am
Not so fast, Charleston Gardens
on Oct 19, 2007 at 9:49 am
Like this comment

Looks like Benest, who leads the city council around by the nose, is attempting to keep another act of malfeasance by city employees out of the press.
Will the City Council have the guts to stand up to him and demand accountability. Considering all the recent scandlas that have plagued the city, isn;t it time we were told the truth??
Isn;t also time for the city to cut all ties with Benest?
Kudos to Larry Klein for bringing this matter to our attention.


Alyssa
Southgate
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:02 am
Alyssa, Southgate
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:02 am
Like this comment

This is truly outrageous.


Bebe
Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:12 am
Bebe, Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:12 am
Like this comment

Kudos to Becky Trout for another terrific piece of investigative journalism. She's the best the Weekly has.

Is it not time for Frank Benest to be fired? It's very difficult not to put the label "cover-up" on this. The explanation that they are "balancing" other factors seems very strained to me.


Not so fast
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:31 am
Not so fast, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:31 am
Like this comment

It is abundantly clear to me that there should be a written record of these incidents and investigations. It is clear that Benest and the City Council are trying to keep these new incidents out of the public eye.
As the article states, the Weekly had to go to court to force the city to release the records of the utilities scandal--one can imagine in the future, the city telling the newspapers that there are no records.
looks to me like this is another ploy by the city to avoid having to release information about embarrassing and costly incidents involving city employees.
Drekmeier's position is disappointing, while Yoriko's position, while not surprising (I am sure she will want to appoint a commission to study the matter) is also disappointing from the "leader" of our city


Mike
College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:37 am
Mike, College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:37 am
Like this comment

Good move by Frank, to keep the sharks from their gossipy feeding frenzy. Watch them circle and whine because there's no food today.

Working inside City Hall is already pantopticaon-like. Let 'em breathe.

I'm also wary of a City Council member or two feeding one or another city empoyee to the sharks, just to keep them happy. We'll wait and see on this one


Not so fast
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:45 am
Not so fast, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:45 am
Like this comment

Malfeasance at city hall, involving any employee that is paid with our tax dollars should be made public once an investigation is concluded.
WE have seen recently two examples of the "good old boy" network at city hall trying to cover up this kind of behavior (Untilitied scandal, Emily Harrison suspension).
This type of "business as usual" shenanigans has no place in our city.
It is time for our elected city council to deal with these issues in a forceful and timely manner and stop wasting time with peripheral issues, like climate change.


Walter_E_Wallis
Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:11 am
Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:11 am
Like this comment

No finished work product, no money.
It is indeed time for Benest to go and for anyone who supports this crap to go with him.


Frances
South of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:59 am
Frances, South of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:59 am
Like this comment

It's difficult to understand how our city, which used to be fairly well-run and was always scrupulously open and honest, has come to seem so a secretive and corrupt.

Is this Frank Benest's fault? The Council's? The citizenry for failing to be vigilant?

I don't know the answer, but I am grieving for the city that I moved to forty years ago because it was such a wonderful place to live.

How sad for us all.


Waiting for news
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:09 pm
Waiting for news, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:09 pm
Like this comment

Drekmeier might be waiting for his orders from the Chamber of Commerce.
This article is just a teaser. Lets have the real news.


Amy
Community Center
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:49 pm
Amy, Community Center
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:49 pm
Like this comment

Since when does the Chamber give orders to any Councilmember????


Graduate Student
Ventura
on Oct 19, 2007 at 2:08 pm
Graduate Student, Ventura
on Oct 19, 2007 at 2:08 pm
Like this comment

The City Council will remove Benest as City Manager when the corporate community represented by the Chamber of Commerce and the local growth coalition that benefits economically from intensified land use conclude that the voters will defeat bond measures for a police station and library as long as Benest is City Manager.

Once those who benefit from the decisions Benest and the Council have made over the past eight years realize that Benest must go, it will be easy for them to decide that it makes more sense for him to leave this year instead of waiting for the Council Members elected in November to take office and terminate Benest's employment.

It is much easier to pretend that the newly elected Council Members represent different economic interests than Benest and the current Council represent, if those taking office next year have no history of voting for Benest's proposals.

If Benest is removed by a Council that includes retiring members Beecham, Cordell, Mossar, and Kleinberg, the voters can go back to sleep and not notice that both candidate Sid Espinosa and Sunny Dykwel, the wife of candidate Dan Dykwel, are on the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce.

If the corporations and real estate investors who have benefited from Benest's tenure as City Manager are concerend that one of their favored candidates will be defeated in the November election if Benest is still City Manager on election day, then the Council will get rid of Benest before the election.


Sally L.
Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2007 at 2:23 pm
Sally L., Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2007 at 2:23 pm
Like this comment

I'm not sure I agree with all of Grad Student's reasoning, but his conclusions are right on.

The only way we citizens can protest the hijacking of our city by special interests and petty corrupt officials is to vote down their requests for more money, and to stop electing candidates from the "business as usual" sector of our establishment.

Don't vote for more bond money for these guys, and don't elect the selected successors to the current council. That's the only way we'll change this mess we're in.


Walter_E_Wallis
Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 2:52 pm
Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 2:52 pm
Like this comment

It is still our city, not theirs. Don't burn down the house to get rid of the rats.


John
College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2007 at 3:14 pm
John, College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2007 at 3:14 pm
Like this comment

"Don't burn down the house to get rid of the rats."

Wlater,

And don't built two houses, when only one is necessary. Defeat these two bonds, then support one that eliminates the Dowtown library branch and builds a police station in its place.


David D.
Downtown North
on Oct 19, 2007 at 4:35 pm
David D., Downtown North
on Oct 19, 2007 at 4:35 pm
Like this comment

It's interesting that most of the posters have already condemned the employee who was investigated. We still have a country where a person is innocent until proved guilty.

Also most are not addressing the fear an employee has if he/she is named in public when complaining about harassment. If the charges are baseless, he/she is likely to be freer from harassment. If the charges are found to be true, then disclosure of the complainant is appropriate.

I like the journalistic position Jay has taken and the reasons for it.


Hulkamania
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 5:27 pm
Hulkamania, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 5:27 pm
Like this comment

If our beloved Vice President can do it (energy taskforce attendees) why can't the city manager?


Mike
College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2007 at 5:31 pm
Mike, College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2007 at 5:31 pm
Like this comment

"It's difficult to understand how our city, which used to be fairly well-run and was always scrupulously open and honest, has come to seem so a secretive and corrupt."

Easy answer: close, then open your eyes. It's a mirage, caused by those who live to feed on gossip and innuendo. The only scrupulous thing around her is the scrupulous nature of certain residents who won't be satisfied until they know how every minute of every city employee's time is spent, with a daily reporting out on the city website (which nobody will be able to find). There, I've offended everyone :)))


Walter_E_Wallis
Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 8:50 pm
Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 8:50 pm
Like this comment

I believe I was condemning a flawed process and the father of flaws.


fireman
another community
on Oct 20, 2007 at 12:34 pm
fireman, another community
on Oct 20, 2007 at 12:34 pm
Like this comment

I think every place has rats, Most of these rats must hide from the light of day. Fearing they will be found out by the public or someone or some group who will not stand for there type of actions/leadership.
When these rats find a leader bold enough to try and steal the cheese from out of your had. These other rats rally behind him/her and feel it is there time to take over.
I think the few rats that have been living and working in The City of Palo Alto have found there leader. Mr Frank Benest
The City of Palo Alto has given me so very much. I paid them back with good service and a promise that I made to myself to do the best job I could. The City of Palo Alto once was a very good place to work. I always felt that I was lucky to work there. I would brag to my friends in the Fire Service about this.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The City that had given me so much had now started to take everything away. The City did not start to do this and I think the City would not do this,however,there are people who lead/run this City and they will and have done this to me,other employees and the citizens of Palo Alto and it does not stop there.
Rats like this are a reason why Palo Alto,America and the world for that matter are not the places they should and could be. Left unchecked these rats will take over.

How much money can be saved by not writting a report? How expensive is paper? Since when does and why would an Attorney advise anyone not to write something down. In an investigation??? is that fish I smell??

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Mike
College Terrace
on Oct 21, 2007 at 8:27 pm
Mike, College Terrace
on Oct 21, 2007 at 8:27 pm
Like this comment

"Since when does and why would an Attorney advise anyone not to write something down."

Sad. There is a difference between full disclosure, and the compulsive reporting out of every gaffe - intended or not - that happens inside City Hall walls.

The press has a right to ask any question; it alsoo has a responsibility to weigh how much benefit will be gained from finding the answer to any one question.


a citizen
Meadow Park
on Oct 22, 2007 at 10:34 am
a citizen, Meadow Park
on Oct 22, 2007 at 10:34 am
Like this comment

I agree with the many commenters who say that Benest and the current council members must go. It is outrageous to devise a method to ensure that the results of an investigation, paid for with our money, into the actions of one of our employees, will be kept from us.
I believe we, the citizens of Palo Alto, do have a right to know of "every gaffe" committed by our employees. BTW, I was once a City employee myself.


Mike
College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2007 at 12:22 pm
Mike, College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2007 at 12:22 pm
Like this comment

Do stockholders know every inside detail within a corporation? No.

Granted, public agencies are supported by taxpayer dollars, but on available evidence it appears that most corporations run more efficiently than government. Might that be because corporate management - although properly burdened with some governmental and stockholder oversight - is not burdened by the same levels of meddling diligence desired by citizens who constantly whine about "how we know better".


Open-Access-Is-Good
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:09 pm
Open-Access-Is-Good, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:09 pm
Like this comment

Someone wrote –
---
Do stockholders know every inside detail within a corporation? No.
---

Corporations do not have the power of a city government. There can be no comparison between the two. The purpose of a corporation is to manage assets and make a profit for the stockholders. If the stockholders cared to know every detail of the corporation's activities, they could impose that requirement on themselves vis-à-vis their corporate charter. There are no/few public laws that restrict corporations from revealing whatever level of detail to the stockholders that the stockholders care to know.

Transparent access to government information is a necessary lynch-pin in maintaining a level of honesty and integrity that will facilitate trust in the voters and residents. Given the city of Palo Alto’s previous record of withholding “work product” from the city council and the public, generating even less paper by authorizing “oral reports” can only be seen as attempting to end-run any auditing of such matters after the fact. Such actions also make it difficult to understand how litigation against the city could be defended when the city officials could not produce documentation that contradicted the claims of someone suing the city (as in the case of a disgruntled employee).

The ball is in the council’s court now. It will be interesting to see if any of the current crop of council candidates will be having anything to say about this—such as the one who is promoting “open government” on his campaign flyer.


Davey
Southgate
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:13 pm
Davey, Southgate
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:13 pm
Like this comment

Mike's argument for less public access to what the city is doing is another way of letting Frank Benest say "Trust Me". With respect, given the utility scandal and other incidents mentioned in this thread, I don't hink Benest merits that level of blind trust.


Mike
College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm
Mike, College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm
Like this comment

I'm not arguing for less access; I'm arguing for "reasonable access". This town is way overboard in the way that its citizens think they should be involved in municipal operations. The level of diligence desired by some is absurd.

There is a difference between transparent government, and government weighed down with the unreasonable desire to know *everything* that goes on at management level, including the press.

Why don't we have teh Weekly, Daily and the same meedling core of citizens here review all applications for employment, and stand on hiring committees? The latter, especially, would be enthralled by this prospect. Wanna bet?


Mike
College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:56 pm
Mike, College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:56 pm
Like this comment

btw, we often hear from those who cry "universal transparency" that "government is inefficient". Gee, I wonder why?


Davey
Southgate
on Oct 22, 2007 at 3:04 pm
Davey, Southgate
on Oct 22, 2007 at 3:04 pm
Like this comment

Given the performance of some employees hired through the existing processes - including particularly the top management of the City - I would think review by any "meedling" core of random citizens would produce better results.

People are asking for more transparency because our city government is self-evidently inefficient,sometimes corrupt, and is and not correcting itself on either measure.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and the city needs a major dose of it. This is why we're seeing the posts in this thread that we are.


Open-Access-Is-Good
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 7:30 pm
Open-Access-Is-Good, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 7:30 pm
Like this comment

Someone wrote –
---
we often hear from those who cry "universal transparency"
that "government is inefficient"
---
These two points are not mutually exclusive. If all of the meaningful records were on-line and accessible via a reasonable search engine, then there would be no issue of lack of transparency and lack of efficiency.

A commitment to e-Government would go a long way to solving the basic complaints about lack of transparency. Recently, the San Jose City Council approved the recommendations of a "sunshine task force" which was convened after several incidents resulted in the removal of the San Jose Mayor. While this task for is still working, it came up with a number of initial recommendations which Palo Alto could do well to implement also. The most important point was that of an on-line calendar for many of the topic officials and managers. Having this sort of openness would go a long way to dealing with transparency. Once implemented, the cost of maintaining such a calendar would be minimal.


Fireman
another community
on Oct 22, 2007 at 8:02 pm
Fireman, another community
on Oct 22, 2007 at 8:02 pm
Like this comment


Mike; This is not Berlin 1940, You once asked for substance and the truth. Then you choked on it. Could not handle it. For many the truth is very inconvient.
You want to compare Private companys to Public Government. That is like compareing apples to elephants.
If this City was a Private Company it would have been out of money and history a long time ago. I think several people might be looking out from behind bars. Enron?
You also like to stretch issues to make them look like something differant. You will try to compare living in Palo Alto to living on Mars if you think I will get you some where.
You like Frank so much,He is your buddy. Well then let him run your life. Trust him? Good luck.
You sure beleive in or like to hide things.
I think it is time for you to turn to channel 101. Lost in space is on.


Charles Foster Kane
another community
on Nov 29, 2007 at 1:28 pm
Charles Foster Kane, another community
on Nov 29, 2007 at 1:28 pm
Like this comment

The absence of an oral report means that the employees making the harassment complaints are prevented from verifying whether their comments to the investigator have been accurately reported, and learning whether any other person interviewed by the investigator has made comments that the complainants believe to be false.

Journalists learn to report the Who, What, When, Where, and How (and sometimes the Why) of a story.

The Weekly article says that the investigator was hired on June 13, 2007, and that there were complaints from three employees.

Missing from the story are the dates of the alleged harassments and what the high-ranking person was alleged to have done.

It would be helpful for the public to know those additional details to be able to place in context the decision to have an oral report.

I realize the Weekly may believe that reporting those details could identify the Weekly's source(s) to the City Manager, the City Attorney, and the accused manager if only one of the three employees who complained of harassment is willing to provide the date and substance of the alleged harassment, or if there were more employees harassed than the three employees whose complaints initiated the investigation.

But the details would better inform the public.

I might even put it on page one of my newspaper.

By the way, you might be interested in my opinion of the recent Council election:

FRAUD AT THE POLLS.


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