What a difference an election makes. That was no where more evident than on Tuesday, May 7, when the Carmel City Council announced it voted in closed session to release a redacted report of the investigation into former mayor Steve Dallas’ behavior while in office.
Repeated requests to see the report under the California Public Records Act were denied under the previous council last year, which Dallas was serving as mayor. On Nov. 8, 2018, that council was blown apart when Dallas lost his bid for re-election to current Mayor Dave Potter and Carolyn Hardy lost her seat to Jeff Baron. Potter told the Weekly prior to the election he favored releasing the report.
Dallas came under scrutiny in December 2017, when Kim Stemler, executive director of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, complained to city administrators that Dallas had made highly sexualized remarks to her at public events in Carmel over a four-year period. She says she never called it sexual harassment, she only wanted the behavior to stop.
Former city attorney Glen Mozingo hired the California law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo to conduct an investigation, which took about three months and included interviews with 26 witnesses. Some were women who claimed Dallas made comments or touched them in ways that were disturbing to them.
At a public meeting on March 7, 2018, Mozingo announced that while Dallas’ behavior was boorish and unprofessional it did not rise to the legal definition of sexual harassment, which meant the city would not be subject to any legal liability.
The three women on the council at the time—Carrie Theis, Carolyn Hardy and Jan Reimers—announced in a joint statement that they reprimanded Dallas in closed session but would not ask for his resignation. (Councilmember Bobby Richards recused himself because he had a connection to someone interviewed as part of the investigation.) Dallas issued a public apology a week later.
Throughout last year, Mozingo denied numerous Public Records Act requests from the Weekly and other outlets to see the investigator’s report. Then came the election, the complete change in administration and two months later, Mozingo's resignation.
Finally on Monday, May 6, City Council's closed session agenda indicated that in light of “anticipated litigation” the council would be discussing “Release of Confidential Investigation Report Regarding Complaints of Sexual Harassment.”
The next day, at the council's Tuesday meeting, Interim City Attorney Jon Giffen announced the council had voted 4-0—with Richards again recusing himself—to release the redacted report on June 20.
Dallas says by text message that he never saw "the report of investigation made against me, well over a year ago. I have no further comment at this time."
Stemler says she's glad the public will get a chance to read the report.
"I think this is the right thing to do," she says. "There have been so many stories and misrepresentations and I don't think the public really got how pervasive his behavior was."