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Cheeky situation involving town's top leaders

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by TBO, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    [SIZE=+2]Flower Mound officials who pinched officer cleared of harassment[/SIZE]

    Amid a rancorous debate over natural gas drilling, Flower Mound's top two elected officials were accused of sexually harassing a town police officer.

    A complaint filed against Mayor Jody Smith and Mayor Pro Tem Jean Levenick said that the women approached the officer from behind and pinched him "simultaneously on the butt," according to a report obtained by The Dallas Morning News.

    Both women, who have acknowledged their actions and been cleared of sexual harassment, said the complaint was politically motivated.

    "I have toiled with this and I know in my heart this is nothing more than a smear campaign," Smith said when she brought up the issue at the Jan. 21 Town Council meeting.

    "It's election season, and Jody and I are both up for re-election," said Levenick, who declined to comment further.

    These are not the only allegations lodged against Smith and Levenick at a time when debate over gas drilling has sharply divided the town.

    They also have come under fire for not recusing themselves from deliberations or voting on ordinance changes that would affect a gas drilling company's desire to expand its operations in Flower Mound.

    Both women have gas leases with Williams Production. The company has sought to conduct seismic testing on town roads and to pipe drilling wastewater to a centralized collection facility.

    Smith, who as mayor votes only when there's a tie, did not cast a vote on either measure but participated in the discussions. Levenick voted with the majority of the Town Council to prohibit seismic testing but allow wastewater to be piped to a central site.

    Smith and Levenick defended their participation, saying there is no conflict of interest because the town – not Williams – proposed the measures.

    Town Attorney Terry Welch agreed.

    "If the application came from Williams, there would be a conflict of interest," he told the Town Council. "But the applicant is the town in both instances."

    But critics said that Williams was the driving force behind the measures and stands to benefit from changes in the town's regulations.

    "What we're talking about is specific to Williams," Flower Mound resident Sue Ann Lorig told the council.

    "I'm not an attorney," said Rebecca Belcher, founder of Flower Mound Citizens Against Urban Drilling. "But from a lay person's perspective, there's the legal and there's the ethical. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest should be avoided."

    Levenick says she acted on the advice of the Town Attorney. She said she's never voted on any issue directly related to Williams, pointing out that at the Jan. 21 meeting she and Smith both recused themselves from two other issues related to the company.

    While the conflict of interest allegations have surfaced before, residents may have been caught by surprise when Smith brought up the pinching incident.

    The incident took place in the Flower Mound Town Hall lobby before the Nov. 2 Town Council meeting, according the investigation report.

    After a complaint was filed with the town's Human Resources Department on Nov. 17, officials hired an outside law firm to investigate possible sexual harassment.

    The report, dated Dec. 2, states Smith and Levenick "approached the officer from behind as he stood at the reception counter in the lobby area of Town Hall."

    When they reached the officer, "both women suddenly pinched or poked" him on the butt, and walked away to greet other people in the lobby.

    Smith and Levenick "acknowledged that their actions, while intended to be in fun, were not appropriate workplace conduct."

    The report states that the officer "has known both women for many years and he was not offended, intimidated or humiliated by their conduct." The officer "had no intention of filing any criminal or civil charge related to the incident," according to the report.

    The investigation found that the women's conduct did not "rise to the level of sexual harassment" and no further action was taken.

    It is unclear who filed the complaint. Smith said that it was a town employee when she addressed the issue at the Jan. 21 meeting. She could not be reached for further comment.

    The News requested all documents as well as a videotape of the incident under the state's open records law.

    The town referred some of the information requests to the Texas attorney general's office, stating that the "disclosure of the informant's identity would violate the informer's privilege" and that the video may reveal the identity of one of more officers used for undercover operations.
     
  2. tous

    tous GET A ROPE!

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    Don't be makin' fun of Texas. :tongueout:

    By the way, y'all got any spare prostitutes up north there?
    NBA All Stars are apparently are going to require 10-20,000 extra for next weekend.
     

  3. trifecta

    trifecta

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    The report states that the officer "has known both women for many years and he was not offended, intimidated or humiliated by their conduct." The officer "had no intention of filing any criminal or civil charge related to the incident," according to the report.

    There ya go. No harassment to see here. Keep moving. Not even sure why it was newsworthy.
     
  4. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    <-----bets the Officer's new nickname is "Goose"