'The issue' is sexual harassment

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212-page report details employees’ allegations

By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

Though suspected for over a month, and hinted about by some, it only became public last Friday.
‘The issue’ that landed City Manager Patrick Miller on paid administrative leave May 24 was sexual harassment following allegations by two female city employees.
According to the report, which contained interviews with several city workers and Miller, Ellen (not her real name) said Miller made inappropriate remarks to her that included intimate details of his sexual relationship with his wife, often walked around with his trousers unzipped, made comments about his sex life, removed his shirt in her presence, pressed himself against her and made several comments about coming to her home.
At one point a co-worker, Jane (also not her real name), said Miller had told her about his relationship with his wife, Ellen said.
Ellen told the investigator she was shocked as she learned that Miller had exhibited inappropriate behavior to Jane, much as he had to her, according to the report.
Jane told the investigator Miller began keeping close watch on her, and may have followed her on occasion.
Ellen alleged that it seemed that Miller was suspicious of she and Jane and he began keeping tabs on her by calling her repeatedly on her cell phone when she was away from the office and demanding to know where she was and when she was returning.
According to Ellen’s statement to the investigator, Miller followed her by vehicle and when she was in city hall.
Ellen and Jane agreed that they should report  Miller’s behavior, but were unsure of how to proceed. Both were suspicious of the “good ole boy” network, Ellen said but the two believed the harassment would not stop.
Jane then contacted Councilor Norm Fugate who told her he would contact the city attorney and find out the correct procedure for a complaint.
Fred Koberlein, the attorney, later advised the women to write down everything.
An emergency meeting of the council was needed and on May 24 it was called. Miller was placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation.
The leave was extended.
During the course of the investigation, Miller was interviewed but not told specific details of who the complaintant(s) were or what allegations were being levied.
During his interview, Miller said he did not know the exact reason why he was suspended, only that a claim had been filed.
He then volunteered that he had told Ellen early on about his sexual relationship with his wife, but he did so that she could have a better understanding of the duress he was under.
He also said he had told Jane the same details. He thought they should know in the event he ever said anything inappropriate so they could rein him in.
“It wasn’t sexual like I wanted something,” he told the investigator. “It was’t sexual that was a desire. I knew something. I was working close to women, you never  know, you know, you say something inappropriate , or whatever.”
Miller said he thought he had good relationships with city workers. He discussed fashion with one, guns with another and most were fascinated by his pet guinea pig, Sam.
However, Ellen said Miller would put the guinea pig on his chest and suggestively stroke it to ease his stress.
Miller mentioned two items that Ellen claimed during his interview.
He told the interviewer, “I think it was the pressure of the job. It had nothing to do with sex or female/male. It had to do with getting the job done.”
At the end of his interview, Miller said, “I just turned 60 years old. Maybe honesty is not the best policy. I don’t know. I sure am going to looking at it.”
Many other city workers were interviewed during the course of the investigation.
No others reported any type of sexual harassment, but several said Miller was given to acts of rage that included screaming and tearing things off the wall.
He threatened to fire employees on a daily basis, some said. One male employee said he had seen as many as five women crying at city hall at one time, confirmed that Miller had changed shirts in Ellen’s presence and described the work environment at city hall as “hostile”.
The investigator came to no conclusion after the series of interviews, and council took no action on the report.
A unanimous vote to not renew Miller’s contract occurred June 8 and was preceded by Councilor Charles Goodman’s statement, “I have lost confidence in our city manager.”