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Investigation clears Newport City Councilors Sawyer, Beemer and Busby

Ralph Busby Newport City Council

Ralph Busby
Newport City Council

Dr. Dick Beemer Newport City Council

Dr. Dick Beemer
Newport City Council

Dean Sawyer Newport City Council

Dean Sawyer
Newport City Council

A summary of an investigation prepared by Newport City Clerk Recorder Peggy Hawker reveals that despite a lot of finger pointing and accusations of creating a hostile work environment at the Newport Airport, inappropriately directing employees on the job at the airport and allegedly disclosing information discussed in a closed Executive Session City Council meeting, City Councilors Ralph Busby, Dick Beemer and Dean Sawyers’ did nothing that would rise to the level of misconduct and the former City Manager Jim Voetberg was involved in the employees filing their complaint.

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Here’s a copy of Hawker’s memo:

AIRPORT EMPLOYEE COMPLAINT INVESTIGATION SUMMARY

Two employees of the Newport Municipal Airport (Terry Durham and Lance Vanderbeck) filed a complaint with former City Manager, Jim Voetberg, alleging that three City Councilors (Richard Beemer, Ralph Busby, and Dean Sawyer) had created a hostile work environment; disclosed information that was discussed during a City Council executive session; and inappropriately directed the work of Airport staff.

A representative of Barran Liebman conducted an investigation by interviewing the two Airport employees and three City Councilors. The investigator prepared a report but drew no legal conclusions. The report was submitted to another representative of Barran Liebman who reviewed the report and considered the legal liability of the city for the Councilor’s actions.

The investigation found:

● The conduct of the three Councilors did not rise to the level of misconduct; and
● A preliminary decision was made by the City Attorney, in consultation with Barran Liebman, not to look into the involvement of then City Manager, Jim Voetberg, in this matter. However, it appeared, during the course of the investigation, that Voetberg did, in fact, have some involvement in the employees filing this complaint.
Recommendations include:
● That City Council should consider participating in training regarding City Council roles and expectations; and City Council public meetings and executive sessions; and
● That the city should consider moving the Airport offices or remodeling the pilot’s lounge to avoid employees involuntarily overhearing conversations among City Councilors to avoid any future misunderstandings.

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