NVN’s Daniel Warn: investigative report shines the light on city hall
+ Nisqually Valley News (NVN): Yelm City Administrator Michael Grayum Subject of Two Harassment Investigations
Cities of Yelm, DuPont Investigate Allegations of Harassment Between Grayum and Female Employees
- Story highlights
– 2 sexual harassment allegations in Yelm date back as recently as last month. The DuPont harassment allegation dates back to 2013 when Grayum was mayor there.
[Ed. note: Now we learn this behavior occurred previous to Yelm, too! Yelm needs to do better background checks on hiring supervisory personnel.]
– Aaron Green, shop steward for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has been involved
– “(The employee) shared that, after comments were made, she informed JW (mayor) and was told it is her job to train male supervisors on how to act with female employees,” Green wrote in his investigation notes.
[Ed. note: This is an improper response to such comments. Why did Foster not immediately bring in an independent investigator and place City Administrator Grayum on administrative leave, as done in a similar situation in 2019 with a Finance Director?]
– “The employee stated after discussing with JW, Michael’s comments became more direct and frequent,” Green wrote. “She didn’t feel JW made any comments to Michael about it.”
[Ed. note: Such harassment INCREASED after the employee discussed their issue with Mayor Foster! Why is the mayor ignoring that women don’t like to be touched by their boss, or anyone, in the office?]
– the second employee had expressed to him [Foster] she had not come forward previously with similar issues involving Grayum, because “she was nervous about talking with Lori due to it possibly making it back to Michael and causing further issues for herself.”
[Ed. note: Female employees being intimidated in city hall is unacceptable, full stop!]
– The public records request included an email with the subject line titled “MG letter” where Lucas and Foster exchanged emails without using Grayum’s name. Foster had written “see how by not using his name I’ve avoided the email search? So clever.”
[Ed. note: Foster shows intent here to keep this out of the public eye, a cover-up!]
– Foster directed Grayum to avoid closed door meetings with individual employees and told him to not speak with the two women about the allegations, even to apologize, “as that would just continue the dominant role and elicit an ‘expected’ acceptance of the apology.”
[Ed. note: That Foster directed this ridiculous instruction and not place City Administrator Grayum on administrative leave is a dereliction of leadership and is complicit!]
– “(Grayum) had some initial confusion about how he should interact with a female employee vs a male employee but then understood our direction for him was to consider his role in modeling appropriate behavior for all employees at all times,” Foster wrote.
[Ed. note: Excuse me? Foster writing this indicates he has no understanding of sexual harassment and is complicit in allowing the city administrator to remain in this position! The mayor should not have to instruct the city administrator on modelling proper behavior! This shows Foster’s lack of leadership in not doing a through background check before choosing this city administrator!]
– The Washington State Council of County and City Employees drafted a letter on Sept. 17 to Yelm officials asking for a third-party consultant to investigate sexual harassment allegations levied against Grayum.
– The union alleged Yelm’s investigation into the allegations was too limited and there was a conflict of interest, as it was conducted by an employee serving directly under Grayum in the city’s organizational chart.
[Ed. note: Again, if true, this reflects on Foster’s lack of leadership that he directed an employee serving under Grayum to investigate their boss. Who does something like that, except to keep this in-house, under wraps?]
– The NVN received public documents from the city of DuPont, where Grayum was mayor from 2012 to 2016, detail how a female employee of the city reported that Grayum had behaved in a way toward her on multiple occasions that was allegedly unbefitting of a person in an authority position.
– Both investigations ended with no disciplinary action being taken.
[Ed. note: To repeat, that Foster did not place City Administrator Grayum on administrative leave is a dereliction of leadership and he is complicit!]
– In Yelm’s investigation, Foster had stated a note would be entered into Grayum’s confidential personnel file.
[Ed. note: And that’s it??? Foster is complicit in protecting Grayum!]
– Foster noted he “will rely on our risk management services agency to recommend next steps and follow their advice.”
– The Risk Management Services Agency is a branch of the Association of Washington Cities.
- The Yelm City Council knew nothing of this until Friday, September 17, when they received a letter from the 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.” Click here for the full story.
- The letter states Mayor Foster was contacted earlier this year by this Union Rep. “with concerns that something was going on. Earlier this year means this has been known for months!
- That the Union Rep. felt she had to go directly to the city council to raise a red flag and by-pass the mayor, indicating Foster’s lack of actions.
- Foster only engaged the Risk Management Services Agency after the council pressed him when they received the September 17th Union complaint letter and learned of this for the first time.
- Grayum may have violated Yelm Protocol Manual and Code of Conduct!
- Mayor Foster will be leaving elective office with this failure as his overarching legacy. His mayoral tenure will be defined by this.
+ Editor’s note: The lack of reaction by the former top leader of the U.S. to harassment in the ranks sounds similarly familiar to the lack of reaction from the top leader of Yelm: