Boone-Moss Report: Shockingly Shoddy

6 Jan

Update: People who have heard the audio recordings of these interviews, including councilwomen Hohmeier and Lang, state that there are discrepancies between them and the transcript, along with after-interview commentary by Garrison and police Major Nick McBroom, who sat in on the interviews.

The final report filed by Protective and Investigative Services of St. Louis on Parks Director Susie Boone’s harassment allegations against councilman Ken Moss, which the Arnold City Council declined to accept and has refused to pay for, has been released. You can view it here. The report states that Boone’s allegations of harassment are with merit. I slogged through its 197 pages, and here are my reactions to the report, for which the investigator, Kevin Garrison, billed the city $6,800.

Frankly, PIS (ha ha, funny acronym) should be embarrassed to have its name attached to this document. The interviews do not support the report’s conclusion that Boone’s complaint has merit. The evidence in this report is surprisingly thin. The interviews were performed in an unprofessional fashion, and the report is filled with multiple spelling and other errors.

There is only one specific example of Moss saying anything bad about Boone, and that, the “she’s a f—— b—-” comment made on September 11, 2012 and reported in the Leader, was said not to Boone but to a city employee named Matt Smith (interview on page 108). Other “derogatory” statements made by Moss about Boone were likewise made to third parties, none of whom could quote anything specific that he said, other than councilman Bill Moritz saying he referred to her as a b—- (interview page 193). Interviewees who could remember these non-specific statements made it clear that Moss’ actions related to Boone were usually in the context of her duties as parks director; a couple of them said he was “nitpicking.” That may be so, but is it not Moss’ job as a councilman to help oversee the city’s operations? Is vigorous oversight harassment? Even Boone, in her interview (page 184 of the document), only offered work-related examples of Moss’ conduct. Other interviewees knew of Moss’ supposed remarks only via hearsay. Garrison’s attempts to unearth comments made by Moss about Boone’s supposed sexual orientation, a question he asked to most of the interviewees without any apparent evidence that such remarks were ever made, came up completely empty. Even councilmen Moritz, Freese, and Amato, the trio that keeps voting in favor of this investigation, had little to nothing to add to the body of evidence in their interviews, apart from hearsay.

Aside from the unsupported conclusion, the interviews were unfocused and unprofessional. When he talked to councilwoman Doris Borgelt (page 73) he all of a sudden started asking her about a comment she made in the Arnold Patch about exposing corruption in Arnold, ta topic completely outside the scope of this report. I can’t see why on earth he asked these questions (unless others from the Arnold government suggested it to him), but Borgelt walked out of the interview at this point. Garrison stated in his memo accompanying the report that Borgelt asked for another interview, but he declined “due to her hostile behavior.” This behavior was probably warranted, but if Garrison is really interested in pursuing the truth with this investigation, can’t he withstand a little hostility? Or should someone being investigated by him in the future simply act mean to make him go away?

Garrison’s interview with Detective Omar Ruiz, on page 127, is worth reading in its entirety, as it demonstrates in a nutshell Garrison’s malfeasance. In the initial part of the interview, Ruiz makes it clear that he has no knowledge of anything related to this case. But he is brought back for further questioning to state that he got a text message or e-mail from Borgelt about her drive to get the state auditor to look into the City of Arnold. Garrison asks why this wasn’t brought up before, and his peevish tone comes through in the text, as if this completely unrelated detail should not have been omitted. Then the investigator reveals, as if he is a prosecutor slamming down his trump card in the middle of a trial, that he knows that Ruiz asked Moss (in Moss’ capacity as owner of Fireside Hearth and Home) for a donation for a police golf tournament, as if this proves Ruiz and Moss have a close relationship that Ruiz lied about. I can tell you, as a high-schooler I sold ads for our yearbook, and I asked lots of businesses for money, and those people were total strangers to me. Garrison comments “every time I bring something up you seem to have forget (sic) so let’s try this again.” Talk about hostile behavior. I’m actually shocked Ruiz took this line of questioning so passively, although he seemed to get a bit feisty towards the end. I hope he’s not this passive when interviewing criminal suspects. Also, Ruiz called Moss “Kenny” and in Garrison’s mind this proves that Ruiz is a liar because you would only call someone “Kenny” if he was your close personal friend. Garrison spends a lot of time asking Ruiz about Borgelt, as well, which again is completely irrelevant to this investigation. Seriously, if you read nothing else in this report, read the Ruiz interview.

It seems clear as well that Garrison had his conclusion in mind when conducting the interviews. He treats Boone’s allegations not as an allegation, but as a known fact. Statements by some witnesses he accepts, while others he discounts, despite having no evidence to support his decisions to do so. For example, in a tidbit that has gone unreported in the local media, probably because it is a sensitive subject, City Clerk Diane Waller claims (page 65) that Kownacki stated that the Rebecca Moss firing (the alleged motivation for the harassment by Moss) occurred because Boone was a lesbian and Rebecca Moss refused her advances. Kownacki vehemently denies this, and states that the story she was telling was about a situation at the group home her autistic daughter was in. Kownacki suggests that Waller overheard this story incorrectly and took it to Police Chief/City Administrator Bob Shockey. Borgelt backed up Kownacki’s version of events in her interview. There is nobody else who can substantiate Waller’s claim (councilwoman Michelle Hohmeier supposedly was in on this conversation, but declined to be interviewed). But Garrison asked pretty much every interviewee whether they had heard Kownacki make any statements about Boone. Most of them had never even heard of Kownacki. Kownacki mentioned in her defense that Waller often makes mistakes in the recording of the minutes of city council meetings, and attributed this to possible hearing loss on Waller’s part, indicating that that may explain why Waller misheard Kownacki. So despite the preponderance of evidence in this situation, I believe, indicating that Waller’s claim is not accurate, Garrison includes it in his report as a plain and simple fact. I should note that this whole business is outside the scope of the investigation, as Garrison says himself in his interview with Kownacki (page 165), stating that “her complaint is in regards to Kenneth Moss, not you.”

Another glaring problem with this report is the errors in facts and spelling. Numerous words are spelled incorrectly, as are last names. Also, start and ending times are recorded for (some) interviews, and a couple of interviews ended before they began, according to these date/time entries. Garrison also was unable, despite the fact that he mentioned her in every interview, to pronounce Kownacki’s last name, despite being corrected several times.

I’ll end this post here, as it is becoming lengthy, and probably return to it in another post. I think that what I have stated above backs up my assertion that this report is not worth $6.80, much less the $6,800 PIS is charging for it (despite the initial assertion from the city that the report would cost $2,000). The council was right to refuse to pay for it, and people are right to criticize the selection of this firm and this investigator to perform this investigation, as Ken Moss’ lawyer Chet Pleban and others have done.


8 Responses to “Boone-Moss Report: Shockingly Shoddy”

  1. Anonymous January 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    I like the double standard of making fun of someone else’s misspellings while making your own misspellings. Ha


    • JC Penknife January 6, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      Oh, that’s inevitable. I would have spell-checked if I was getting paid for this. But thanks for your comment; I fixed the errors.


      • Anonymous January 21, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

        The citizens of Arnold are never going to get the real facts over this issue. At this point, the facts are so blurred that we’ll likely never know. Regardless about the opinion about the ‘sloppy’ nature of the report…it is evident that (1) Moss has held a grudge too long and it has impacted his judgment, (2) now his sister’s issues are out in the open for everyone to see (sure she is glad about that) and (3) the employees of the city are scared to death that they are going to lose their jobs because Moss will find out what they said. Yea…this is just the type of city I’d want to do business or work for….



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