By JEN CARDINES
The city council addressed the investigation of Mayor Ken Cockayne at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13, attempting to bring clarity to public information that they believed was confusing.
After a question from the public regarding censure of the mayor by the panel, Councilor Calvin Brown, one of three Democrats on the board, defined “censure” as, “A legislative body’s formal displeasure with one member’s actions.” He further added, “The gravity of that might not feel real to so many people but it’s the first time that this body has ever censured anyone.”
Brown also deconstructed a recent media report he felt needed correction in terms of the facts the investigation. During Brown’s paragraph by paragraph analysis of the published article, Cockayne interjected that Brown was speaking about behind-the-scenes information that was not privy to the public. Brown, however, disputed the mayor’s assertion and said that was not the case.
An investigation into sexual harassment charges against the Mayor, dubbed the Rose report because it was prepared by Attorney Michael J. Rose of FordHarrison, recommended that the mayor is to apologize for threatening and retaliating against city employees.
At the Sept. 13 council meeting, Cockayne said that he read the statement by one of those employees— Attorney Richard Lacey—and said some details in the statement were not factually true.
“It’s a he said, she said thing, I know that. There were no witnesses in there,” the mayor said. “I will not apologize for something I did not do.”
Councilor Mary Fortier, another Democrat, asked city Personnel Director Diane Ferguson to review the Rose report recommendations, for the sake of transparency, and to give a public update on their status.
Ferguson said that the current labor attorney suggested finding an independent party to conduct the requested sexual harassment and civil rights training, which is in the works. The council shall be included in this training, which Ferguson hopes to implement by the end of this year.
Further, the personnel director said, the city has established an ombudsman protocol under which the complaining party, whose name was censured in the summary of the Rose report, and Attorney Lacey can report perceived retaliation. The complainant’s sick time was restored as well, meaning all Rose recommendations have been addressed by the city, Ferguson said.