by Brett Watson
On May 17th of this year, the City Council held a special meeting to admonish me for baseless allegations made against me by a staff member who became frustrated with me as I emerged from a deep depression, resulting in her no longer being able to control me as a council member. The only information supporting these allegations was unsubstantiated interviews of two people who had something to gain from my resignation (see new report), contained in an unprofessional and completely biased “investigation report” conducted by Karen Kramer of Kramer Workplace Investigations (KWI), implying she was an actual investigator. A report the Arcata taxpayers were forced to spend $15000.00 on.
Most of the media and much of the public latched on to the results of the Kramer report and repeatedly referred to it as damning evidence proclaiming my guilt.
I realized my only recourse was to replicate what the City did and hire my own investigator to conduct a new investigation using at least the exact same evidence used in the Kramer report, but with the hopes of generating a professional and unbiased report to share with the public. I used four months of salary given to me by the Arcata taxpayers for my service to them, to fund a new investigator.
At first, I sought out a highly experienced local investigator who reviewed my case. She was shocked by the significant incompetence in the first report. She determined I needed an investigator proficient in the circumstances of the allegations brought against me, and she located a Northern California investigator, Baker Street Investigations, who specialized in workplace investigations as a licensed private investigator.
I was in total disbelief when I read the final report from Baker Street Investigations. According to his research, Karen Kramer of Kramer Workplace Investigations (KWI) was not a professionally licensed investigator. She was an attorney that put the word, “investigations”, into her business name and proclaimed her work to be an “investigation” report, which would lead a reasonable person to conclude that it was written by an actual licensed investigator. Apparently, attorneys posing as investigators is a common but frowned upon practice. Furthermore, none of her conclusions appear to be made by any sound or professionally accepted investigative methods that a real professional and licensed investigator is trained to use.
Also on May 17th, attorneys Tom Oconnell and Nancy Diamond convinced the Council to approve spending $80,000.00 of taxpayer money on a restraining order against me. This was absolutely ridiculous political theater. There’s never been any evidence that I have ever or would ever be a danger to anyone. It’s been four months now. Where is the restraining order they were so certain they were going to get against me? On what grounds do they believe they can get one against me? Our own police officers have told me I’m not seriously considered to be a threat to anyone. This is obviously more rhetoric and political theater to harass me and tarnish my reputation. It’s also likely that it’s the Staff and Council’s effort to influence the outcome of the upcoming election, using taxpayer resources.
In response to my complaints about staff misconduct during their investigation, the City then hired a second investigator (with a conflict of interest), to investigate the City attorney and senior City staff members 7 months after I made the complaints. My new (licensed) investigator, BSI, says:
“I also learned that Private Investigator Barry Aninag, B A Investigations, has been contacted/contracted by the City of Arcata to investigate the complainants in this matter. Website www.awi.org for the Association of Workplace Investigators shows Mr. Aninag as a member. Refer to the previous page of this report wherein KWI Karen Kramer is a board member of this association.”
This leaves all the staff involved as being under investigation themselves, one lawyer “investigator” shown to have likely expressed biased, and another City investigator with a reasonable conflict of interest.
Everything about this new investigation by Baker Street Investigations is as transparent as possible. The exception being the City’s refusal to turn over public information that may have added more pertinent information to my investigator’s findings. Lastly, he used actual professional, and industry-accepted investigative methods to reach his conclusions.
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