A recently released letter is providing additional information about the investigation into Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough.
The letter to the City Council dated July 22, 2010, is from five senior-level female city employees: Municipal Court Administrator Jill O’Cain, Assistant Parks & Rec Director Katie Anderson, Assistant Finance Director Vicki Heilman, Director of Neighborhoods and Community Affairs Emily Yim and Deputy Police Chief Karen Manser. We obtained the letter through a public disclosure request.
The letter outlines the employees’ concerns over a “hostile and harassment-based working environment” ever since Gough was elected:
As you know, we, along with dozens of others, have been interviewed as potential victims in the investigation related to the Mayor’s abusive treatment of female employees in the City of Lynnwood.
We have been subjected to a hostile and harassment-based working environment since his initial election four and a half years ago. The environment has deteriorated over time for us, morally and emotionally, to the point that it has become intolerable for many of us who deal with the Mayor on a regular basis, to come to work at all. Excellent employees that have their time in for retirement purposes are leaving and those that can’t desire to leave. This includes the loss of Stephanie Simpson who was employed as Executive Assistant to the Mayor.
We believe that this situation is also adversely affecting the City’s ability to attract top notch employees, of either gender, for key positions.
Standard policy should include protecting employees from their alleged abuser, including acts of retaliation, during the investigation and if the investigation is sustained, removing the abuser rather than leaving the person in place to continue victimizing the same and/or other employees.
The City of Lynnwood Workplace Harassment Policy states in part that the City desires to maintain a workplace free of hostility and harassment and will not tolerate such conduct by its employees, supervisors, elected and appointed officials, volunteers etc. We do recognize that you have some limitations regarding this matter. However, we believe that we each have claims which may be pressed against the City. Please be certain, however, that we each would prefer to serve the City and its residents.
As the investigative portion draws to a close we urge you to expeditiously make decisions regarding the findings in this matter and take all of the actions that you are legally authorized to take to help resolve this situation for us and the City as a whole. We want you to restore our workplace to a professional environment where we are free to conduct our jobs without harassment, intimidation or abuse.
We thank you for your concern and we do appreciate your hard work and dedication to the City of Lynnwood.
On Monday night the Lynnwood City Council voted to censure Mayor Gough and call on him to resign. The investigative report into his conduct is expected to be released tomorrow afternoon. We’ll post it as soon as we receive it.