On March 11, 2019, the City of Santa Cruz hired me to conduct an independent investigation of complaints made publicly by Mayor Martine Watkins during a City Council meeting on February 12, 2019, by City Employee 1 on February 13, 2019, by Councilmember Donna Meyers on February 22, 2019. During my investigation, additional complaints were made by City Employee 2 on April 4, 2019, and by City Employee 4 on April 23, 2019. These five complainants alleged violations of:
- the City of Santa Cruz Administrative Procedure Order Section II, #1B (Effective April 2017), Respectful Workplace Conduct; and
- City Council Policy 25.2, Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation, and Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy occurring between July 2018 and May 3, 2019.
These complaints were made against City Councilmembers Drew Glover and Chris Krohn.
Through the course of my investigation, the City gave me unrestricted access to information and witnesses. Once the scope of investigation was determined and agreed upon, I was given authority by the Human Resources Director and Special Labor and Employment Counsel Tim Davis to order interviewed employees to answer all questions candidly, truthfully, and honestly. I reviewed relevant documents provided to me by witnesses and the City. I made credibility determinations during this investigation as necessary.
I gathered documents and information from witnesses and other sources. I also viewed approximately six (6) hours of video of City Council meetings between December 2018 and April 2019, and the audio recording of a Commission meeting, posted online on the City’s public Internet website. I personally visited the City Council chambers and the dais, visited the Ross Camp before it was closed, and visited areas within City Hall identified and described by witnesses.
As in any investigation, there may be other relevant information I have not identified or collected. But I am confident I have obtained enough information to enable me to reach my reasoned factual findings and recommendations.
Summary of Findings
Based upon facts I learned during my investigation, I have found:
- The allegations by Mayor Watkins against both Councilmembers Krohn and Glover, made during her public statement at the February 12, 2019 City Council meeting, that they have intentionally bullied her because of her gender in violation of the City’s Respectful Workplace Conduct policy, are not substantiated.
- The complaint by City Employee 1 on February 13, 2019, that Councilmember Krohn was disrespectful to her in one instance on February 12, 2019, in violation of the City’s Respectful Workplace Conduct policy is substantiated. City Employee l’s complaint that Councilmember Krohn’s conduct in this instance was substantially motivated by her gender is not substantiated.
- The complaint by City Employee 2 that Council member Krohn was disrespectful to her in three instances between July 2018 and September 2018, in violation of the City’s Respectful Workplace Conduct policy, is not substantiated.
- The complaint by Councilmember Meyers on February 22, 2019, that Councilmember Glover was disrespectful to her in two instances on February 1, 2019, in violation of the City’s Respectful Workplace Conduct policy, is substantiated as to one instance and not substantiated as to one instance. Councilmember Meyers’ allegation that Councilmember Glover’s conduct in these two instances was substantially motivated by her gender is not substantiated.
- The allegations by City Employee 4 that Councilmember Glover was disrespectful to her between 2017 and May 3, 2019, because of her gender in violation of the City’s Respectful Workplace Conduct policy, are not substantiated.
Summary of Recommendations
I have been asked to make recommendations resulting from my investigation and findings. Therefore, I recommend:
- Councilmembers should avoid making public accusations of misconduct or bad faith against one another and against City staff without first privately and internally addressing these concerns and attempting conflict resolution and rectification when possible.
- All members of the City Council should receive immediate training in:
- City of Santa Cruz Administrative Procedure Order Section II, #18 (Effective April 2017), Respectful Workplace Conduct;
- City Council Policy 25.2, Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation, and Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy; and
- City Charter section 809.
- The City Council and City staff should review its post-election onboarding process for new City Councilmembers to provide prompt, comprehensive, verifiable, and interactive group training on the policies and provisions listed in recommendation 3 [sic] above, and all other important City policies applicable to City Councilmembers.
- All members of the City Council and selected staff members should immediately participate in professional mediation and conflict resolution, such as via services provided by the Conflict Resolution Center in Santa Cruz1 or a similar organization.
- Visual presentations by individual Councilmembers at City Council meetings that include photographs of City employees should be coordinated through the City Manager’s office rather than by individual direction to the City Clerk.