Council censures mayor; charter prevents further action

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

Mayor Kenneth Cockayne was censured by City Council Tuesday Sept. 6, following a 2 1/2 hour closed door session.

Following the private meeting of the councillors, Councilor Anthony D’Amato read their collective statement after announcing that no vote was taken behind closed doors. The statement said that while the council “considered a series of punitive measures ranging from termination, suspension, etc.,” they lack the authority to do anything other than censure the mayor. The city’s currently drafted charter prohibits the council from legally taking further measures, however, members of the council took recommendations from the investigative report into appreciation.

The special meeting’s agenda said the council would “convene into Executive Session to discuss the investigative report regarding the Mayor and City employees and consider potential recommendations as public discussion of this matter may result in disclosure of information privileged by an attorney-client relationship exempt from disclosure under the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, C.G.S. Sec. 1-210(b)(10).”

Attorney Michael Rose conducted an investigation into claims of harassment—sexual, political, and persona—by the mayor.

In a summary of the report, Rose writes: “I have completed my investigation into complaints made by (employee’s name censored) against Mayor Kenneth Cockayne. I have concluded that Mayor Cockayne engaged in at least one substantive act of retaliation against (name censored) for raising her concerns of perceived sexual harassment. I do not beleve that there is substantial evidence to warrant (name censored) claim that she was retaliated against for political activity.”

Rose also write, “Finally I do not believe that (name censored) was sexually harassed per se in that she has herself acknowledged that this is not the focus of her claim and the two individuals involved had a personal relationship during the period in question.”

The report also said the mayor attempted to intimidate corporate counsel Richard Lacey when he tried to investigate the complainant’s claims.

In Rose’s report, the attorney made some recommendations, including the mayor must acknowledge wrongdoing in the threatening of the complaining party and Attorney Lacey.

The mayor has made several public apologies. But the council did not feel Cockayne’s initial statement on Aug. 3, 2016 meets the requirement.

The report also said the city shall also establish training for all staff and elected officials, councillors included, on civil rights matters.

Moving forward, the council—after a unanimous vote— said it will address the charter to recommend revisions on the supervision and discipline of all elected officials.

Mayor Ken Cockayne

Mayor Ken Cockayne