(March 7, 2018) As Council members, the three of us were required to serve as a review panel to address the accusations of sexual harassment against Mayor Steve Dallas.
We had been informed by the City’s legal counsel – as you have seen now – as to whether or not the City has exposure to either criminal or civil liability as a result of the alleged conduct by the Mayor. And we can report that the actions complained of will not result in any exposure to the City.
We can assure you that the investigation was carried out in a manner that is required by both state and federal mandate, and that ensured the Constitutional protection of Due Process. The independent investigative attorney had no previous relationship with the City, with the City’s legal counsel, or with any individuals making the allegations in this case.
We were briefed by our three attorneys as to content of the extensive report. They had independently read the report, had discussions with the investigative attorney, and each came to the same conclusions as to the findings of fact and the application of the law. We are confident that the investigation was carried out in a manner that should give comfort to the community and to all involved in the investigation.
The scope of the investigation was extended beyond the initial claim to issues not related to sexual harassment, but the investigation itself remained focused on the allegations that could have given rise to potential liability to the City.
As were called upon to review the conduct of a colleague, we did not take the testimony or observe the demeanor of the accusers, the accused or the witnesses as the testimony was given. However, we had replied on the analysis and informed judgment of the experience investigative attorney and our three city attorneys.
We were informed that all witnesses interviewed did acknowledge the Mayor always conducted himself in a professional manner when performing his civic duties.
The investigative attorney concluded that the Mayor was honest and truthful throughout his testimony, though his actions did not always put himself in the best light. If there is a human failing here, it is the Mayor’s lack of insight and self-awareness as to how his conduct and comments in social settings are perceived by others. He exhibited behavior that clearly does not represent the professional conduct the community should expect at all times from our elected officials.
We have rendered a decision that we believe is in the best interest of this community to move forward and we have delivered a reprimand to the Mayor in closed session. We made recommendations and requests that included the following action:
- Demonstrate respect for and sensitivity of others, with an understanding and appreciation of appropriate boundaries
- Work on self-awareness of how his actions and words affect other people
- Comport himself in a professional manner at all times that dignifies the office he holds
And we have been advised by the Mayor that he desires to issue a formal public apology for inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.
No person is all one thing – good or bad. We do not intend to make this a public flogging because every person in this room has some personal failing or character flaw. As elected officials, we are aware that it is not possible to be liked by everyone we serve and must be prepared to accept disapproval. Nor is it possible to make decisions every time that will please all people.
As this matter comes to a close, we intend to continue moving forward with the good work of this City Council and continue to be the effective and productive City Council that we have been. If we dwell on the past or focus on only the present, we will miss our opportunity for positive possibilities for the future.
We ask that this community work together with us and our appointed officials to find common ground, set aside the vitriol, mend the divisiveness, and demonstrate that our village can once again overcome adversity through our strengths as a community.
CARRIE THEIS, Mayor Pro Tempore
JAN REIMERS, Council Member
CAROLYN HARDY, Council Member