Tag Archives: ken moss

Tidbits from the Moss Lawsuit

11 Mar

Here are some interesting items I found in Ken Moss’ lawsuit against the members of the Arnold regime. You can read the suit itself here:

  • Susie Boone, in her timeline of alleged harassment by Moss, claimed no harassment between April 2011 and September 2012. In September was the alleged 9/11 ceremony incident (when Moss allegedly called Boone a bad name to a third party) that reportedly prompted the initial complaint. Other than that, the pre-April 2011 allegations are outside the 180-day window required by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR). (Paragraph 14 of the suit)
  • More than one council member has stated that the tape recordings of the interviews done as part of the investigation of the Boone complaint included discussion/derision of the interviewees by Kevin Garrison and his sidekick, Arnold Police Major Nick McBroom. Paragraph 30 of the suit includes some off-color comments the two made questioning the veracity of some interviewees’ remarks. In these comments, Garrison, supposedly an outside, independent observer, seems pretty confident that he knows the real story and that he can detect lies from people he’s never seen before.
  • This lawsuit alleges a conflict of interest exists for Bob Sweeney, since he previously represented Moss’ business in some legal matters, and Moss consulted him Sweeney when the city fired his sister. Also, Sweeney seemed to be confused during this process about whether he represented the city, Boone, or even Moss (see paragraph 36). On a related note, paragraph 38 reports:

    This is not the first time conflict issues have been raised with Sweeney. In correspondence dated February 8, 2011, the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri cautioned Sweeney about “the disclosures and communications necessary, under Rules 4-1.0(e) and 4.1-7, in situations involving conflicts of interest and consent to conflicting representation.”

  • Paragraph 40 makes a point that I have made, that even if what Moss did what was alleged, none of it has anything to do with gender, age, or other protected activity under the Missouri Human Rights Act. Paragraph 44 confirms my speculation that Boone’s second MCHR complaint, filed after the first one (technically a mere Intake Questionnaire submittal) was rejected, contains for the first time allegations of gender and age discrimination, suggesting that the magical buzzwords were added in order to get MCHR to accept the complaint.
  • Paragraph 54 addresses (as evidence that Sweeney has in the past, like he is doing now, interfered with Arnold elections) the ballot removals of Shaun Missey and Rod Mullins that I have discussed so much on this site. Unlike the Leader, he mentions the fact that in 2011 Sweeney took a different position on the tax requirements of candidates, because at that time his buddies were the ones late on their taxes.
  • Much of this suit is based on Sweeney’s interactions with the media. He convicted Moss publicly before the investigation was complete, and he allegedly leaked the Boone and Bob Shockey complaints, and the results of the sham investigation, to local media.

We will see how the regime responds to this. In the name of consistency, they should quickly offer him a settlement, in order to avoid the possibility that the city loses the suit and has to pay a lot of money. That’s why we were told the Boone settlement was necessary. This suit is, I would argue, more legitimate than Boone’s complaint, and thus the city is at greater risk now.

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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.

Boone-Moss: Searching for Facts

19 Jan

In light of Pat Martin’s latest Leader editorial, I feel I must offer a succinct version of the case against the investigation. Martin is repeating the canard, also offered from the city council dais, that the council majority voted not to pay for the investigation because they “didn’t like its conclusion.” This is inaccurate.

As I detailed here in-depth, those of us who want to deny Kevin Garrison and Protective and Investigative Services their $6,800 fee feel that way because the investigation and report were poorly done. The outcome was preordained, interviewees who did not support the intended result were badgered, irrelevant lines of questioning were pursued, and numerous spelling errors riddled the report. If you hired a contractor to build a deck onto your home, and it was built in a subpar, unacceptable manner, would you pay for it? But we are told by Martin and others that, since the work was done, we have to pay for it, regardless of its quality.

In a sense, it is true that we don’t like the result of the investigation. But that’s because the evidence doesn’t support the finding that Parks Director Susie Boone’s complaint has merit. The investigation establishes that councilman Ken Moss made unspecified (with one exception) negative comments about Boone to third parties and he criticized her work. Does this constitute harassment, particularly age and sexual harassment? If that is the case, I am guilty of harassment against Pat Martin, because I have spoken negatively of him to people, I criticize his work on this blog, and he’s old. I’d better set up an appointment with Garrison. As flimsy as the allegations against Moss are, the allegation against councilwoman Sandra Kownacki, who was also dragged into this investigation, is even more baseless, as it is supported by the testimony of one person, while denied by the testimony of two.

Martin states that the Arnold city council is the frontrunner for 2013 “Knucklehead of the Year.” In recognition of this week’s column, I hereby formally nominate him for the award.

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.

Arnold: Next Stage of the Boone-Moss Saga

29 Dec

Update: Here is the report on the investigation of the Boone claim.

I wrote here about the developing accusations of harassment leveled against city councilman Ken Moss by Arnold Parks and Rec director Susie Boone. In that post, I mentioned Arnold’s plans to hire Protective and Investigative Services of St. Louis to investigate Boone’s complaint. The results of this investigation are in. According to the company, their investigation substantiates Boone’s claims. A couple of notes about the investigation:

  • According to the October 11 edition of the Arnold Leader, the investigation was to cost about $2,ooo. But in the end, the city was charged $6,800, which is a pretty big discrepancy. According to the Arnold finance director, Deborah Lewis, $2,000 of that was for interviews with various city officials and employees, and the rest was for transcribing the interviews and assembling the report.
  • This situation started, we thought, with a complaint Boone reportedly filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (city administrator Robert Shockey said at the December 20 council meeting that it actually started with a complaint by Boone to him). I suggested in my previous post that I did not think this accusation was under the purview of the MCHR, as it did not appear to be based on some sort of discrimination against a protected class. And in fact, the agency said it “could not do anything with the complaint” and that it would have to go to a different agency. We know that no cmplaint was included in the investigator’s report, and that the investigator did not share a copy of it with Moss’ lawyer during the latter’s interview, according to Arnold Patch. Patch tried to acquire the complaint, but nobody at the city or the MCHR responded.

The council voted on December 20 not to accept the investigator’s report, by a 5-3 vote. The vote was split the same way as the votes on October 4 that I discussed in my previous post, with only Paul Freese, Bill Moritz, and Phil Amato voting in favor. Complaints about the report were that a lot of it was hearsay and unnecessary questions (Cricky Lang), that the report was not “valid” and the “summary was wrong” (Michelle Hohmeier), the investigation “was not done correctly” (Sandra Kownacki), and that it was a “sham” (Doris Borgelt). Moss refused the acting city attorney’s suggestion to recuse himself from the vote. (Note: this report is a public record, and I am working on acquiring a copy).

I found it interesting that Mayor Ron Counts strongly defended the investigation, saying “we have an obligation to our staff.” However, back in September, it was Counts, along with city attorney Bob Sweeney and city adminstrator/police chief Robert Shockey, who took Moss into another room during a closed council session to press him to resign. Had they succeeded, there would have been no investigation. As I wrote at the time, “[Sweeney] and Counts were perfectly willing to subvert the democratic process by removing Moss from the council behind closed doors with no public input.” They didn’t want this to be made public. But now we hear that this investigation was the proper way to support city employees. Moritz also spoke of his yearning desire to show the employees that he has their back.

Shockey spoke up during the council meeting, vehemently wanting to clear up (and put “on the record”) that he had no ties to the investigator, and that Boone filed a formal complaint with him, and that, not the MCHR complaint, was what triggered the investigation. This is contrary to what many thought, and Kownacki stated this at the meeting. Shockey also said, oddly, that “this has become, in my book, retaliation and harassment towards me” (51:10 mark on 12/2o video here). Is he going to file a complaint with the MCHR (or with himself)? Can we see a copy of Boone’s complaint to Shockey?

We are told by Sweeney that the three options going forward are to do nothing, to impeach Moss, or censure him. Freese made a motion to censure (later withdrawn), and said that impeachment was not ideal in his mind. It seems safe to say that a censure resolution will not pass, judging by the 5-3 votes we have seen (which would be 4-3 with a Moss recusal).

Other notes:

  • Moss’ attorney spoke at the meeting, and had a fiery exchange with Counts (his remarks began at 56:20 in the video).
  • A vote was taken and the motion passed to release the minutes of the September 20 closed session that relate to Boone’s allegations. Moritz offered this motion, suggesting that there were three items in those minutes that would apparently back up Boone’s case. I look forward to seeing them.
  • Ken Moss plans to run for mayor in April. He claims that this accusation is related to that. With Borgelt also running, this promises to be a bitter battle.

Telling Exchange in Arnold

28 Nov

The Arnold City Council was recently surprised to learn that the new CVS project near Hwy 141 and Jeffco Blvd will cost the city $3.9 million, $1 million more than they thought. It turns out that former city administrator Matt Unrein learned about this discrepancy back in May 2012, but it was never communicated to the council. The developer of the project spoke with the council about this at their last meeting, and this interesting exchange occurred (4240 mark on the 11/15 video):

Councilman Phil Amato to the developer: “Sir, you’ve got a problem here, as far as I’m concerned”

Councilman Ken Moss: “He doesn’t have a problem, the city has a problem.”

What you see here is Amato, who loves to take credit for things he has a dubious claim to, blaming someone else for something that was clearly caused not by the developer, but the city (he also says oh, I voted against this, in order to try to distance himself from the problem). Then you have Ken Moss pointing out that Amato is incorrect. This is the same Moss that might, in the past, have been on Amato’s side, before Amato and his pals attempted to strongarm him off the council a few weeks ago. Does that play a role here? It’s interesting to see how these side issues play out on the council floor.

It’s also interesting to see how things can go wrong when the city dishes out money for development projects. This is a little reminiscent of what happened back on July, when the city found out, hey, we have to pay $200,000 for a sewer line upgrade at the Anheuser-Busch can plant, after agreeing to subsidies for the plant’s expansion in February. From the linked article, it even seems like Unrein might have known about this expense, too, for some time without telling the council. In the end, he might be costing the city more than just his big severance.

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