Union asks Mayor Foster investigate sexual harassment allegations against city executive
+ Mayor Foster and the Yelm City Council received a formal, written request this afternoon from Hannah Hollander, Staff Representative for the Washington State Council of County and City Employees (Council 2, AFSCME, AFL-CIO), requesting the mayor initiate “a third-party investigation into several claims of sexual harassment and discrimination by an employee in executive leadership.”
+ Hollander added, “This is a very serious situation and we sincerely hope to have your support in prioritizing this request.”
+ Yelm’s Executive Leadership is comprised of Mayor JW Foster, City Administrator Michael Graham, Public Services Director Cody Colt, Police Chief Todd Stancil, Finance Director Stephanie Dice, and Administrative Services Director Lori Lucas. This blog had not received Ms. Hollander’s letter to Mayor Foster prior to publishing this report, identifying which executive was named.
+ A previous executive leader Finance Director Joe Wolfe] was placed on Administrative Leave by City Administrator Michael Grayum, who informed the city council on May 14, 2019, that he had become the acting Finance Director, with no reason to the public then provided, as reported on this blog. The public later learned there was an allegation made against him, with a independent investigation being inconclusive.
+ Mayor Foster is now in a very difficult position as he enters his final quarter of city leadership before a new mayor takes over at year’s end.
+ Losing the daily responsibilities of a department head during an investigation is detrimental to city operations.
+ Foster will now have to act and place another vital department head on leave with an impending third-party investigation the union is requesting he initiate. In this case and at this time in Mayor Foster’s tenure, there must be full disclosure. Nothing less is acceptable for public trust!
+ This is a very vulnerable time for city management, with recent realignments of departments and an excessive turnover in staff, as reported on this blog May 11, 2021.
- Mayor Foster should convene an emergency city council session as soon as possible, since the council does not meet again until October 5’s Study Session. This requires full transparency to maintain public confidence in the city’s functions with the impending mayoral change at year’s end.
- With the Staff Representative for the Washington State Council of County and City Employees sending this request, this IS indeed very serious, and demands full accountability.
- This may be the most challenging situation Foster will have to address as mayor that has the potential to leave a lasting impact on his legacy, based on how he addresses this situation.