There's at least
one person who won't be answering questions in the city's investigation surrounding former Police Chief Frank Straub's removal — Frank Straub.
Mary Schultz, who is representing Straub in his lawsuit against the city, has advised Straub not to answer questions from investigator Kris Cappel
"When you have a defendant who contracts for an investigation, that investigation is designed to exonerate," Schultz says. "That's no different than hiring an investigator to assist you in your preparation for a lawsuit."
She adds that any interview of someone involved in litigation should be done as a sworn deposition.
Cappel was hired by the city to dig into Straub's resignation/firing (depending on who you ask), allegations of sexual harassment against him and the city's handling of the whole mess.
Bob Dunn, the attorney representing Monique Cotton, the former police spokeswoman who accused Straub of sexual harassment, says his client would participate if asked, but she has not yet been approached with questions.
"It's going to be a huge waste of money," Dunn says of the investigation. "If all this is voluntary, I don't know why anybody would participate."
City Council President Ben Stuckart says the council has ability
to compel testimony through its subpoena power,
but suggests they'll wait to see if that's necessary.
“We’re going to wait until she finishes up her interviews, and then evaluate,” Stuckart says. “I’m going to wait until I see the report.”
Last week, Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart sent a letter to city employees encouraging them to participate in the investigation, but discouraging them from discussing the investigation with anyone else (including, presumably, the media):
As you may know, the City of Spokane is conducting an investigation into a variety of personnel matters as described in the attached scope of work memorandum. You may possess information that is relevant to the investigation therefore the outside investigator wishes to interview you.
As a City employee, you are encouraged to cooperate fully in the investigation. In doing so, you must be as honest and candid with the investigator as possible and answer all of her questions to the best of your ability. Your honest and candid perspective is important to the integrity of the investigation.
If you are contacted by the investigator, you should not discuss the investigation, your conversations with the investigator, or even whether you have been contacted by the investigator with any other potential witnesses while the investigation process is pending. However, you are of course encouraged to discuss the matter with your union representative or legal representative should you decide to retain counsel.
For efficiency of scheduling, please contact Barbara Patrick, Administrative Secretary, by March 1st with your intent to participate. She can be reached at (509) 625-6271 or [email protected]
Finally, it is important that you understand you will not be retaliated against for participating or not participating in this investigation. If at any point you feel you are experiencing retaliation for participating in this process (or any other reason), please contact the Human Resources Department or the City Hearing Examiner immediately.
Meanwhile, to avoid a conflict of interest, the city hired an outside law firm to provide administrative oversight for matters concerning Straub's lawsuit, as City Attorney Nancy Isserlis is a named defendant. Former mayor Dennis Hession is the firm's primary contact; Assistant City Attorney Sam Faggiano will be the city's liaison to the firm. The contract is for up to $48,700.