Council votes to send letter to Spokane Mayor about Straub

City Council members voted to send a letter to Mayor Condon asking him why and how he handled the sexual harassment claim involving former police chief Frank Straub the way that he did.

SPOKANE, Wash. – In a rare, unanimous vote, each member of the Spokane City Council voted Monday to approve giving Mayor David Condon a letter that questions his handling – or lack thereof— of the alleged harassment investigation involving former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub.

The letter has a specific set of questions for the Mayor who is facing scrutiny over the exact circumstances that led to Straub's dismissal as police chief.

At the top of the list, council members want to know why Spokane's Human Resources Department did not investigate allegations of Chief Straub's harassment. They also want to know when the mayor first became aware of those accusations.

"It looks like HR 101 on how to handle cases like this," council member Mike Allen said.

The council also wants to know why it took so long for documents about the case to be made public. The letter demands to know the exact date those documents were uncovered – and why they were not immediately released.

"As a city, we have to foster a culture of respect for our employees," council member Amber Waldref said.

Another issue? The council members said they were never briefed about the allegations against Straub, and want to know why.

The Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart told KREM 2 News on Monday that he is not satisfied with Mayor David Condon's announcement about the investigation into the Spokane Police Department.

"It's problematic. People were not honest," said Stuckart.

Condon is bringing in a retired federal judge to look into how personnel issues were handled in 2015 within the Spokane Police Department. In particular, Michael Hogan will conduct an inquiry into complaints made about former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub and the sexually harassment allegations made by former SPD employee Monique Cotton.

Condon announced Monday that Hogan would begin an inquiry into the personnel issues starting Tuesday. Stuckart learned about the investigation Monday morning. Hogan previously oversaw mediation on the Otto Zehm settlement.

"How if you've worked with an investigator before, and you know the investigator, is it an independent investigator when the mayor hand picks who the investigator is?" said Stuckart.

Stuckart and Condon stood side-by-side in September when Straub resigned amid coworker complaints. At the time, Condon called Straub's resignation a "mutual decision." However, Straub's lawyer later said he was forced out and not allowed to refute the complaints made about him. Stuckart said he heard rumors of the harassment and spoke with city administrator Theresa Sanders about the matter a month before Straub's resignation.

"I've heard everything second-hand. And tried to verify at that point in time, very directly if the rumors were true. And I was told no, which has obviously been disproved," said Stuckart.

Mayor Condon has until Friday to answer all the council's questions.

Council President Ben Stuckart threatened to subpoena anyone who refuses to cooperate in this case.


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