Boone-Moss Report: A Councilwoman’s View

24 Jan

Arnold Ward 2 Councilwoman Michele Hohmeier posted her thoughts on the Boone-Moss investigation and report, and the decision by the council not to pay for it, on Facebook as part of her most recent council update. I will excerpt the relevant portion below. Note that Hohmeier backs up the testimony of Councilwomen Doris Borgelt and Sandra Kownacki about the comments the latter supposedly made about Boone’s sexual orientation. That makes three witnesses that deny the comments were made versus one (not part of the conversation) who says they were. Also, Hohmeier has listened to the audio recording of the interviews and comments on the troubling information found therein. And now, Michelle:

Boone/Moss Investigation

Since the meeting when the bill for Protective and Investigative Services was denied, I’ve had comments from several residents. Most are in support of the denial of payment, although some do not agree with my decision. I don’t know if I’ve given a reason for my decision to deny payment, but I will try to do so here.

As I may have stated before, I was hopeful this investigation would shed light on the situation, as I had no background knowledge of any of the alleged incidents. When the report finally arrived, more than a month after the interviews had concluded, each council member was given a paper copy of the report. It was also released to the media, which allowed the investigation to be transparent to all. Being such a long report, the media simply read the summary, and one would reason this would be the crux of the entire report. Not so in this case. And in their haste to report “something” on this controversy, the media failed the people in reporting the truth.

If a person were to only read the summary, they would believe the allegations against Mr. Moss had merit and action should follow. But when reading further and looking at the interviews, it becomes apparent statements made by those interviewed did not corroborate the summary’s conclusion.

When people were asked about Mr. Moss’ comments or attitude toward Ms. Boone, most people had heard nothing or very little. No one could point out an instance when Mr. Moss interfered with Ms. Boone’s daily activities, including other Rec Center employees. There were actually more questions asked by the investigator regarding Miss Becky Moss’ work ethic, Mrs. Kownacki’s alleged statement and Ms. Borgelt’s emails than determining whether there was any supporting evidence to substantiate Ms. Boone’s litany of allegations, which were not limited to comments. As most may not know, Ms. Boone had written down dates when she believed Mr. Moss was undermining her job duties. Supposedly, this list was presented to the investigator, but there was no line of questioning regarding these allegations asked during the interview process. I say “supposedly” because there is no evidence in Mr. Garrison’s report that indicates he even has a copy of this document (as it should be part of the official record i.e. his report) nor did he reference the document at any time during his questioning. The validation of these claims was never broached by the investigator.

When listening to the audio of the interviews and comparing it to the documents presented in the report, the substandard quality of the transcription and therefore, investigation became clearer.  Also heard on these tapes, is Mr. Garrison and Major McBroom of the Arnold Police Department, who sat in on all interviews, (I thought this was supposed to be independent of City influence) discussing the testimony of a member of City staff and a police lieutenant after the interviewee left the room. The men questioned the integrity of the employees regarding their knowledge of the situation between Mr. Moss and Ms. Boone.

Regarding the Rec Center employee, that person said they preferred to stay out of politics and work centered gossip and simply do their job. This seemed a ridiculous notion to the interrogators and, undeservingly, determined the employee was lying and were convinced they knew more.

In the case of the lieutenant, the men conspired to force the officer to reveal what they thought was hidden evidence, proving Mr. Moss’ guilt by speaking with the officer’s supervisor in an effort to get the lieutenant to confess more. In reality, there really was no more evidence against Mr. Moss, and what the officer had neglected to tell the men was that he was hired by the Fireside store to work security for an event, that the officer had solicited the Fireside store, along with 20 other Arnold businesses for donations for the Major Case Squad and that he had received a group email from Ms. Borgelt, similar to the one you all are receiving from me.

To Garrison and McBroom, this indicated the complicity of the officer to hide overwhelming convicting evidence regarding Mr. Moss (the fact the officer worked for Moss’ company and he received an email from Ms. Borgelt). The comments made by these men toward these two City employees were, in my opinion, very unprofessional and even more derogatory in nature than anything Mr. Moss allegedly said regarding Ms. Boone.

I would like to remind everyone, Mr. Moss has no direct ability to fire Ms. Boone. As a matter of fact, even if the council voted unanimously to fire Ms. Boone, it is up to the discretion of the City Administrator to abide by that decision. The Administrator can go against the Council’s decision, and with past Administrators, this situation has occurred.

I haven’t even spoken about the supposed statement made by Mrs. Kownacki, being presented as fact in the report, which is nothing but a lie. I was involved in the conversation. I directly heard what was said, and it was nothing like what is being reported as truth. At no time did Mrs. Kownacki ever refer to Ms. Boone’s sexual orientation or unwanted advances to Miss Becky Moss. This event has been greatly exaggerated by one employee, who overheard a portion of the conversation and made a determination of her own.

The following week, those of us directly involved in the conversation were asked by Chief Shockey of our recollection of the conversation and told of the allegations of the employee. All involved in the conversation told him the employee was mistaken. Since the employee’s statement was considered truth during the investigation and has been touted throughout the media as truth, I can only assume our statements were deemed unacceptable and the word of one person was taken as truth.

In addition to the inadequate investigation performed by Protective and Investigative Services, the charges for the job were exorbitant to say the least.

The total running time of the audio is six hours and forty minutes. Mr. Garrison charged the taxpayers for thirty-three and a half hours for interviews. In addition, he charged four hours to meet with City officials to discuss the case and review documents. Mr. Garrison then charged another two hours time to review the documentation on Miss Becky Moss’ termination. Mr. Garrison’s time for these items totals $2,800.00.

As your City Council representatives, we were given less than half an hour to discuss and review the documents, which didn’t include the Moss termination report, before we were told we needed to hand down judgment regarding Mr. Moss’s behavior, before he was interrogated by Mayor Counts, Mr. Sweeney and Chief Shockey behind closed doors.

Mr. Garrison’s bill culminates with the transcription of the interviews and assembly of the report for which he is charging taxpayers $4,785.00. If you figure a cost of $60/hr for transcription, the cost to transcribe the interviews cost $2010 leaving $2,785 for assembling the reports and supplies. I’m not sure about you, but this appears to be an overcharge to me.

Some of you may be doing the math and coming up with a total of $7,385. That’s because $7,385 was Mr. Garrison’s original amount until he graciously took off $585.

Taking all of this into account, I made the decision not to pay Protective and Investigative Services. Contrary to what many are saying, including news media, this action was not taken because I didn’t agree with the conclusion of the report, but because of the incompetence of the investigator to complete a satisfactory investigation much less a superior investigation.

Imagine if you had hired someone to do a job in your home and the workmanship was far inferior than anyone should expect, would you pay them? Would you demand the job be completed satisfactorily before you paid? Unfortunately, that cause of action is not applicable in this situation.

I feel if the City simply pays everyone so we don’t get sued, we make a statement that says ‘the City of Arnold will not make a stand for quality’. In saying this, if Protective and Investigative Services takes the City to court, I would expect our City officials would stand for quality, defend Council’s decision to safeguard tax dollars and protect the best interest of the City and our citizens. But we may have to hire an independent attorney to assure our interests are protected.

If anyone has questions regarding the report and the truth of what I’m saying about this investigation, please read the copy of the written report which can be found online. But if you should read it, please note it is not verbatim and there are many discrepancies between the written report and the actual tapes. I’m not sure how they are releasing the audio, but if you are interested, call the Clerk’s Office in City Hall, as they handle all Sunshine Requests. During the last Council meeting [Jan. 17, at about the 63 minute mark of the video], a resident, who is a retired police officer stood before Council and explained the process of a proper investigation and report. Please watch that video. I have again supplied several links to the report and comments regarding the investigation. I ask each of you before you make a determination regarding the report, please listen and read. Educate yourself on what is truly going on and help support those of us who are engaged in a battle for your city.

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