Sound Off for November 30th: Independent investigation launched over Straub complaints. Thoughts?
SPOKANE, Wash.– — City Council President Ben Stuckart is drafting a letter to Mayor David Condon which will ask very specific questions as to what he knew and when regarding the issues involving Frank Straub within the Spokane Police Department.
Stuckart said Monday morning he expects the council to approve the list of questions and if they are not satisfied, the council could vote to launch an independent investigation.
Meanwhile, Condon announced by e-mail that retired Judge Michael Hoganwill conduct an inquiry into the handling of personnel matters within the police department.
Hogan previously mediated the settlement between the City of Spokane and the family of Otto Zehm.
The media release says that Hogan will begin his inquiry Tuesday and his findings will be made public once its completed. There is no timetable as to when that inquiry will wrap up.
Internal documents released by the city in a public records request indicate that Condon was aware of allegations of sexual harassment made by Monique Cotton, the former police department public information officer, against Straub back in April. At the time Cotton directed city administrator Theresa Sanders to handle the issue. Cotton was later transferred from the police department to the city’s parks department in a move that Condon publicly acknowledged would help that department raise awareness of the upcoming development plans for Riverfront Park. The reality was, according to internal city documents, Cotton requested and was approved for transfer from the police department due to her concerns about Straub’s leadership and her concerns about his behavior.
An investigation has never been conducted regarding the allegations of Straub’s behavior, though reports from multiple personnel within the department colored his leadership as a tyrant who, on at least one occasion last April, screamed at subordinates and threatened them with their jobs. That incident last April was the catalyst that promoted Cotton to ask for a transfer out of the department.
In September Straub was forced to resign; the announcement came on Sept. 22, five months after the incident which prompted Cotton to request a transfer from the department, yet the mayor’s office said he was resigning because Straub wanted “to pursue new opportunities and be closer to family.”
Condon personally recruited Straub for the police chief position and, despite the fact that a panel of law enforcement officers from federal, state, county, tribal and city agencies found that Straub was not right for the job, Condon pressed forward his nomination and Straub was hired.
Straub has filed a $4 million claim against the City of Spokane for wrongful termination.
What are your thoughts?
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