Are all Investigations Equal?
Has anyone else been wondering why the board was unwilling to put CAO Smith on admin leave and yet so quick to put Chief Richardson on leave? Anyone else curious if these two seemingly similar investigations are being carried out with the same attention to detail?
I've pulled together a little chart -- granted I don't know all the details of the investigation against the chief; but I filled in what I know thus far:
I don't know if I can make this any more clear -- there is a distinct and incredible difference in the way these two situations are being handled. Is it because the complaints are vastly different? Not from what I've been told.
This is what I don't understand. I was told repeatedly that there were NO written complaints against CAO Smith and President Stephan. Yet, despite holding them in my own hands, our board (or was it our lawyer) failed to follow its own process to put CAO Smith on leave and investigate. Why Mr. Berman took the lead and became the mouthpiece for that farce, is beyond my understand -- but it is clear that something happened between Trustee Younge turning over his collection of statements from employees to the attorney and the publishing of the "Majority Report." that looks nothing like an actual investigation.
In fact, the single most heartbreaking part of this is that Chief Richardson will have a hearing that was not done at all to CAO Smith. She (and a tiny sub-set of the complainants) were given a list of "Interrogatories" written by a non-lawyer, who spent zero time actually talking to anyone. Make no mistake, there were written, credible complaints against CAO Smith. Complaints, that if proven true, are violations of the Anti-Harassment policy and various sections of the employee handbook -- all of them terminable offenses. And NONE of those were addressed in the report presented to the board that claims this matter closed.
Does this make you wonder what else hasn't been presented to the board properly? Given that the CAO singularly controls all the information flow to the board -- including ordering the police chief to stop giving the board reports about the police department; is it not even plausible to believe that the board may not have been given all of the facts of the situation?
And while I'm asking deep questions here, does anyone else wonder why Mr. Berman has taken the lead in matters that deal with Trustee Younge, the Village Attorney, and CAO Smith? It is pretty clear in the Village Code that the board as a whole, not a single member, directs the CAO to then direct the staff; but Mr. Berman routinely directs the staff in matters of their daily work. Why is this?
And ultimately, as I've heard similar words come from many of the board members mouths -- who is the one controlling the narrative from the 'majority board?' When I met with Mr. Berman in early June, he trotted out several narratives during that time, which I have since fact-checked and disproven. This doesn't appear to be slowing the insistence on a narrative -- so, who is the author that keeps pushing this inaccurate information?