Council deliberates over report implicating mayor

Even though I have not posted as often as I thought I would (I am still trying to figure out the world of social media), I would be remiss to let last night’s city council meeting pass without drawing attention to it.


First, except for opening and adjournment, this meeting was held exclusively in executive session. We will not be privy to the deliberations, but it is important to understand the details or context.

The matter at hand for the council is the latest investigation of city hall, this one specifically about the mayor’s behavior. The objective, from what I understand, is how the city council will proceed in light of a report that found the mayor guilty of retaliation and that stated, “Unless he can sincerely recognize the errors involved, a toxin will permeate throughout the City of Bristol, and the City Council will be forced to evaluate its legal obligations to manage or discipline the Mayor.”

The summary, click here Ford Harrison investigation summary, states that in many other lines of work the mayor’s actions would have led to his firing.

This statement leads to a quandary because the city council cannot fire the mayor. The city charter does not allow for that option. It will be interesting to see how the council proceeds, and what the public will do once it finds out more, if it ever does. The full report is confidential as are the deliberations.


Secondly, if his apologies are any indication, the mayor continues to miss the point. For example, despite the report summary saying one thing, the mayor insists it says something different. Here are his apologies, there are three of them, each underscoring the mayor’s interpretation:  Click on this link for Apologies 1 and 2. For the mayor’s apology to council members click here: Email apology to council members.

This is troublesome because unless he understands the problem with his behavior he will be incapable of correcting it. In other words, he will not be able to meet the recommendations found in the summary. The report includes several recommendations for the city and the mayor aside from the mayor acknowledging his wrongdoing.

Let’s be clear. At issue is not any inappropriate personal relationship of his, for which he continues to apologize profusely. Just as important to remember is that this investigation did not delve into sexual harassment, of which he has said he has been exonerated. Read the summary. The investigator explains that sexual harassment is not the focus of this complaint.

Despite the “Re: Sexual Harassment Investigation” in the reference line of the letter to the city’s personnel director, the complaint, according to the complainant, who should know what her complaint is, is not about sexual harassment but about retaliation. The line might have been more accurate if it had stated, “Re: Retaliation Investigation after Sexual Harassment Complaint was Filed.”

Again what the investigation finds is at least one substantive act of retaliation by the mayor. It is this that mayor needs to acknowledge publicly and apologize for, specifically and contritely. In addition, his apology needs to address how he is going to conduct himself differently in city hall, where his inability to rectify his actions will contribute a toxin to the atmosphere.


Third, and back to context, this investigation is the second of three. A first investigated the personal director, a close associate and employee under the mayor, and her handling of complaints against the mayor. The results of this investigation have not been released.

A third investigation, currently being conducted by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, deals specifically with a claim of sexual harassment against the mayor brought by an employee. This complaint may not be resolved for a while.

At the conclusion of last night’s meeting, Councilman Dave Mills read a statement that the city council will be meeting again next week to continue their deliberations.


So, here is what I need from you. Help me out by answering a few questions:

  • Have you learned what you need to know about the situation?
  • Is there something more that you would like to know?
  • Is the information handled fairly?
  • Are there sources that you would like to hear from?
  • Are there other approaches to this material?
  • Do you have any information that would shed light on the situation?*

*The information must be verifiable to mean anything. Speculation and innuendo really do not serve to advance the conversation. Try to stick to the 5W’s and H–Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.


Since I review all comments, if you are sending confidential information, I will most likely catch it. However, if you have information that you do not want shared with the public, send it to my email address