To Mayor Michael O’Connor and the Board of Aldermen for the city of Frederick:

First and foremost, we believe harassment and hostile behaviors have no place in Frederick city politics, government or affairs. All women — and every victim of abuse, harassment and any hostile behavior — have the right to share their experiences in a professional and unbiased manner befitting the seriousness of such transgressions. We believe that residents and visitors alike deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace, educational environments, religious facilities, social gatherings and any other space they choose to occupy.

In light of the serious accusations recently brought forth, including potential abuse of power and the sexual harassment of members of our community, it has been made clear that there are gaps in the current city government documents that include rules of ethics and who is covered by said rules. There is no mechanism for a private resident of Frederick to report an incident of sexual misconduct against a government official. Currently, the only mechanism to report any kind of misconduct is available only to government employees through human resources. However, this does not apply to nongovernment employees or private residents. Once an incident is reported, there is no protocol in place for what the process of investigating such an incident or what possible outcomes will be. Furthermore, there is no mechanism to hold an elected official accountable if such incidents are proven to be true.

These loopholes in the system provide protection for elected officials to avoid accountability, while victims are forced into silence, having no recourse to seek justice. We also have an ethics commission with no members of color and no women. In ensuring a safe and unbiased space for victims to share their experiences, we must have inclusive systems in place that reflect our community.

We, the undersigned, are calling on you to immediately put forth legislation that will accomplish the following changes to the current governing charter documents for our city:

  • Clear and concise language that includes sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and behavior unbecoming of an elected official as unacceptable and punishable acts covered by the code of ethics;
  • The addition of a straightforward path for incidents of misconduct to be reported by community members to a human relations repartment or equivalent;
  • A mechanism for elected officials to be held accountable by a human relations department or equivalent;
  • A policy to ensure the diverse populations that reflect our community are immediately installed onto the ethics commission.

We must create avenues that ensure transparency and accountability from our government and elected officials. We must do so by intentionally including representatives from our diverse community and creating clear, unbiased procedures to handle claims of misconduct by elected officials. We call on you to rebuild trust with our communities and incorporate these changes for a stronger Frederick for all.

Many of the writers of this letter are involved in various organizations across Frederick County, but are writing this as a group of concerned citizens.

(16) comments

petersamuel

This is outrageous. It speaks of "the serious accusations recently brought forth." A serious accusation involves a detailed complaint and a complainant. Nothing of the kind has been "brought forth recently," merely a generalized smear against Alderman Roger Wilson. It is telling too that the correspondents list of specifics in their proposed harassment legislation omits completely any provision for due process and a fair hearing of both sides. The kangaroo court they propose would further weaponize personal destruction by smear.

Piedmontgardener

Even handed and thoughtful. Can't see anything in this letter or suggestions that should cause any issues for anyone - elected officials should be under codified conduct rules. We watched for years the U.S. Congress treat the pages and their staff like sexual toys and saw the House and Senate ethics committees sweep their members dirty laundry under the rug. I'm all for these suggestions, with one qualifier - the independent investigation of Mr. Wilson must be handled well outside of city government, no one involved in this or city government should have any input other than the investigator's report.

FrederickFan

There is a process. Why don't these women empower other women? The city does not need another commission. The idea that a group citizens on a commission can provide a public forum and/or a resolution to an issue like this is just a bad idea.

threecents

If there is a process then it should be spelled out and formalized.

ewiz06

Not surprised to see that a number of the "writers" of this letter are the same people who actively posted on Alderman MacShane's FB post in support of MacShane. This is a thinly veiled attempt to give some type of legitimacy to MacShane's actions.

shiftless88

I don't get it; the victims are not city employees they are citizens. Therefore you would call the police, correct? What am I missing?

KellyAlzan

Note: alleged victims.

And it seems the MacShames didn’t plan this hoax out very well.....

threecents

Shiftless, Sexual harassment and other forms of harassment are often not criminal offenses. As far as I know there are no criminal allegations against the Alderman.

KellyAlzan

I am disgusted the the FNP would publish this garbage. There is already a process.

Dwasserba

What is it.

kfmd

If there is a process. Kelly please provide The easy to find link on the city website. Because I can’t find anything.

Dwasserba

I like it.

JulianaDowney107

This is a petition with growing community support—article needs to be amended to reflect that fact.

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/reform-frederick-citys-code-of-ethics-to-make-elected-officials-accountable-for-misconduct?source=direct_link&fbclid=IwAR2Ag6a6BLEIs0dk0O0ksPGZBN5kSDTgGcWKToN8a4We_n3si_YHBxbHXlA

yogib

Since most of these signers are close friends of the McShame"s , probably part of the Cabal against Wilson, and are on the Democratic Central Committee, why did they not advise againsst such a juvenile action when they had the chance?

Dwasserba

Close friends? Did not know. Not sure calling for loopholes to be closed is evidence of evil intent. "We also have an ethics commission with no members of color and no women." Well that's no good. It's no good, right?

kfmd

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