ENCINITAS — City Council released an internal report during its May 12 meeting addressing a verbal harassment complaint filed by Councilwoman Teresa Barth against Councilman Jerome Stocks and Mayor Dan Dalager. The council voted unanimously and without discussion to waive the city’s attorney-client privilege and make the report public at the request of Stocks, who said taxpayers deserve to know the result of the $15,249 investigation.
Barth said she chose to file an internal complaint to avoid politicizing the behavior, but supported the release of the report. In the complaint Barth contended she was bullied by the “good old boys” on the council with threatening and disparaging remarks to reporters and constituents.
“I chose to file an internal complaint because I did not want this to be political, but rather a sincere attempt to stop the escalation of bullying and possible retaliation against myself, my family or personal property,” she said in a prepared statement read at the end of the meeting.
Legal counsel hired by the city deemed the complaint invalid because Barth is not technically a city employee. The report, signed by attorney Richard Kreisler of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore described Barth’s complaint as “baseless,” saying the allegations “amount to claims for lack of civility in the workplace, which is not a legally protected right, especially as to a public figure and elected official such as a City Council Member.” However, no “investigation” was opened.
Stocks agreed the complaint was without merit. “I never called anyone a name, neither did Danny,” Stocks said. “She was upset at not having been appointed deputy mayor and made these allegations in retaliation,” he said. “It’s a shame that taxpayers had to spend so much money at her insistence on baseless allegations.”
Barth filed the complaint with the city in December after Stocks didn’t nominate her for deputy mayor, a rotational position that she was next in line for. The post ultimately went to then-Mayor Maggie Houlihan, who declared that she didn’t think she should have it.
Stocks criticized her in remarks to newspaper reporters on why he didn’t choose her. He was quoted as saying he was sending Barth a message that she had angered the council majority with personal attacks and a lack of leadership. “Sometimes the lack of civility is part of politics,” Stocks said, dismissing Barth’s claim of a hostile work environment.
Barth said she made “a sincere attempt to stop the escalation of bullying and possible retaliation.” But after that failed, she filed a formal complaint. “She said she tried to keep this internal to keep it from being political,” Stocks said. “I found that comical. I called for the report to be public because the public has the right to know.”
Barth later amended her complaint to include a signed statement in which she said Dalager joined with Stocks in making “repetitive threatening and intimidating comments” about her. She also said that Dalager displayed a “sexist attitude,” but the attorney found no evidence of sexual harassment by Dalager.
“The city conducted sexual harassment training for council members and department heads in response to concerns being raised two years ago,” Deputy Mayor Maggie Houlihan said. Houlihan declined to comment on the particulars of Barth’s complaint but said that she has been the target of harassment and feared for her safety when a person with business before the council allegedly wrote disparaging comments about her on a billboard and threatened her.