What the report stated | April 27, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 27, 2007

What the report stated

Excerpts from the Jan. 16 report by independent investigator Patricia Elliot and witness statement from Emily Harrison

Criticisms of Harrison:

"There is ample evidence that Ms. Harrison is prone to lose her temper and lash out at employees in a defensive reactive manner. By contrast (Employee*) is known to be reserved, methodical, unemotional and highly professional." — Conclusion by investigator Patricia Elliot

"Despite her claim that she later felt bad about how she treated (Employee) both on October 3 and again on October 10, Ms. Harrison made no attempt to apologize or explain her conduct. Rather, she complained to others about (Employee's) conduct and performance, misrepresenting (his) statements and demeanor and unfairly blaming (him) for a lack of communication with the City Clerk." — Conclusion by investigator Patricia Elliot

"(Employee's) allegations are credible and have been corroborated by other witnesses. Ms. Harrison mocked and berated (Employee) in 2001 and 2003 based on her perception of (his) religious affiliation and beliefs. Ms. Harrison's denial that she made such comments is not credible." — Conclusion by investigator Patricia Elliot

"Ms. Harrison refused to speak with Ms. Erickson for months and completely froze Ms. Erickson out of all discussion. In meetings the two attended, Ms. Harrison gave Ms. Erickson glaring looks, one-word responses to questions and literally turned her back to Ms. Erickson when Ms. Erickson spoke. Ms. Harrison was extremely unprofessional and acted like in her audit report Ms. Erickson had made a personal attack against Ms. Harrison." — Summary of statement by City Auditor Sharon Erickson

"As a longtime City Auditor, Ms. Erickson is accustomed to dealing with bruised egos in her job, but has never experienced the degree of hostility and personal rebuke she received from Ms. Harrison." — Summary of statement by City Auditor Sharon Erickson

"Mr. Baum sent Ms. Harrison a legal memorandum on an issue that Ms. Harrison had been working on. The memorandum advised Ms. Harrison that she should not follow a path she had taken regarding a human-resources issue. According to Mr. Baum, Ms. Harrison became very upset and started screaming at him that he had betrayed her and should not have put the information in writing." —Summary of statement by City Attorney Gary Baum

"There is significant evidence that Ms. Harrison has treated numerous employees in an offensive manner over a period of years, despite having been counseled and warned to improve her conduct on several occasions. Ms. Harrison's mistreatment of employees has interfered with their ability to do their jobs for the City." — Conclusion by investigator Patricia Elliot

Support for Harrison

"Ms. Harrison is outgoing and usually happy and exuberant. Her voice carries and she can often be heard from down the hall when she is in an outgoing mood. The work Ö is challenging and Ms. Harrison has tried to foster a relaxed casual environment to counteract the stress of the work." — Summary of Harrison's witness statement

"Ms. Harrison has not received any complaints or criticisms about her language or decorum in the office. Ö Ms. Harrison has never been told that she shares too little or withholds important information from other employees. Ö She rejects the notion that she has ever used information as a commodity or withheld information to interfere with another employee's ability to get work done." — Summary of Harrison's witness statement

"Ms. Harrison did a great job turning a very bad situation (in the Utilities Department) around. She is very outspoken, truly cares about the City and has a great sense of humor. (The witness) has never seen Ms. Harrison berate or humiliate anyone." — Summary of a witness statement

"(The witness) has worked with Ms. Harrison on various projects over the past four years (and) has always found her very professional, bright, very well-organized and a good communicator. (The witness) has never seen Ms. Harrison lose her temper, but she can be very directive." — Summary of a witness statement

"(The witness) describes Ms. Harrison's work style as very open and caring. She is a good listener. According to (the witness), she is one of the few women he has worked with who does not wear, 'I am woman' on her sleeve." — Summary of a witness statement

"She is directive and gets things done, but is respectful in the process. (The witness) did not hear her raise her voice or be disrespectful to anyone." — Summary of a witness statement

*"Employee" refers to the person who filed a written complaint against Harrison on Oct. 16, 2006.


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