Before an investigator has been hired or named, the Spokane City Council has written a letter outlining the inquiry that will examine former police Chief Frank Straub’s forced resignation.
The letter focuses on four “minimum requirements and expectations” of the investigation, which the council says should be “thorough, independent, and unimpeachable” in order to “regain the trust and confidence in our City’s processes.”
The letter will only partly determine the scope of the investigation. Four people have been named to a committee that will help guide the investigation, two each by the mayor and the council. Condon named Rick Romero, the city’s utilities director, and Laura McAloon, a private attorney. Councilwoman Karen Stratton and Brian McClatchey, the council’s policy director, will represent the council and will be informed by the council’s letter.
Councilman Mike Fagan was the sole member to vote against the letter at a meeting Monday night. He said he supported the investigation and the concept of the council’s scope, but he said the letter’s tone is too harsh.
“It could’ve been worded differently,” he said, calling it “leading.”
The primary goal of the investigation is to describe when, and to what extent, Mayor David Condon, City Adminstrator Theresa Sanders and the city’s human resources department knew about the allegations against Straub of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.
The letter also directs the investigator to look into why it took the city three months to release records requested by The Spokesman-Review; how the city processes employee complaints; and how the city handled the forced resignation of Straub.
The letter also suggests that the labeling of former police spokeswoman Monique Cotton’s accusations that Straub had “grabbed her ass, tried to kiss her” was wrong.
“What some call ‘sexual harassment’ may actually be ‘sexual assault,’ a distinction particularly troubling when applied to the actions of uniformed law enforcement officers,” the letter says.
Fagan said use of the word “assault” was problematic.
“There has been no allegation of assault,” Fagan said.
The investigator is reminded that the City Council has the power to subpoena people and compel them to testify under oath.
“Prior to the commencement of your investigation, we will provide you a list of those individuals we believe have relevant information,” the letter says, adding that the public and city employees should be given a chance to share any important information.
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