In the midst of an ongoing investigation and legal case over the sexual harassment claims that ousted former city manager Andrew Clinger, the City of Reno held a special public meeting Friday to discuss the fate of the case’s lawyer — City Attorney Karl Hall.
The meeting was spurred by the demand of Reno City Attorney’s Office for a list of workplace romantic relationships from Gescheider. Reno residents are outraged by this demand and are rallying for the case to be put in someone else’s hands.
Nearly a dozen Reno residents stood and spoke on behalf of Maureen McKissick, the former assistant to the city manager, and Deanna Gescheider, the city’s former communications director, in a crowded meeting. At the meeting, council members debated what course of action would be taken. The popular opinion among the meeting’s audience was to bring in an outside lawyer.
“I urge the city council to remove the city attorney and hire someone who will handle this more equitably,” audience member Lynette Evans said.
“I am appalled by what the city attorney has done. This request is not only abhorrent, but violates federal law, and violates basic morality,” Mylan Hawkins, Reno resident, said.
Mayor Hillary Schieve demanded Hall remove himself from the sexual harassment case, but was met with a refusal from both Hall and his office.
“I was elected to represent the city of Reno and I plan on doing that zealously,” Hall said during the meeting.
The call for outside investigation is also motivated by claims made by Hall that council member Naomi Duerr conspired with McKissick and Gescheider to oust Clinger as city manager.
“I would like to suggest we hire outside counsel to handle the sexual harassment problem,” Janice Flanagan said in Friday’s meeting. “In my opinion, the City Attorney’s Office has bungled this from day one and inexcusably made an outrageous claim against councilman Duerr for doing her job. I think that alone should disqualify them from handling the case.”
Schieve also expressed interest in acquiring outside counsel to defend Clinger. According to Schieve, the prying into a woman’s romantic workplace affairs is uncalled for and unacceptable.
However, hiring outside counsel would also mean incurring the cost of that extra lawyer. Moreover, not every member of the City Council found Hall’s questions out of order.
“You can go find another similar case to this that is impending upon a court today in any jurisdiction and you will find questions like this in that plea deal asking these questions,” council member Paul Mckenzie said.
Despite the strong opinions on both sides of the Hall debate, because no vote was scheduled for the meeting, the council took no action.
“My motion would be at this time to have a full presentation of potential options available to the council, up to and including securing outside counsel at a future council meeting,” Vice Mayor Neoma Jardon said.
A vote is to take place in a special meeting in the upcoming weeks that has yet to be scheduled. In order to move forward, the vote is to be six out of seven in favor of outside counsel.
Olivia Ali can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.