When an elected official’s character and credibility are in question, it just isn’t good enough to say all the results of an investigation will remain secret because it’s a legal and personnel matter.
Sacramento residents deserve to know whether the accusations of sexual harassment against Councilman Allen Warren had any merit at all.
City Attorney James Sanchez is refusing to discuss the findings or release any documents from the investigation into a claim made by a former Warren aide. As The Bee’s Ryan Lillis reported Tuesday, Sanchez is asserting that the records are exempt from public disclosure because they were produced as part of a potential lawsuit, are personnel records and are protected by attorney-client confidentiality.
He also argues that the public interest is better served with secrecy.
What about the interests of taxpayers, since they were billed for the investigation by an outside law firm? Or the public interest because the allegations were made by an employee who was on the city payroll?
When sexual harassment allegations were made against Mayor Kevin Johnson, the city attorney and the outside attorney said that investigation determined the accusations were unsubstantiated.
At the very least, that basic conclusion – whatever it is – should be made public in Warren’s case as well. He has denied the allegations that he threatened to fire the aide if she ended a sexual relationship.
According to Sanchez, the City Council as a whole would have to waive attorney-client privilege to release the investigation’s findings. It should do so.
Otherwise, if Warren decides to seek re-election this year and the issue remains this clouded, it should and will be considered by voters.
The allegations against Warren and Johnson prompted a review of city policies on sexual harassment, which found that they hadn’t been updated in years and that more than 130 supervisors hadn’t taken the required training. The mayor also urged every member of the City Council to take the training, though they weren’t legally bound to do so.
Council members have completed the course. They were also expected Tuesday night to revise their rules to require at least two hours of training every two years.
That’s good. But they also need to clear up the uncertainty surrounding one of their own.