Councilwoman’s harassment complaint dismissed on technicality

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.

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  1. Hysterical taxpayer says:

    Barth got herself in a snit because the people she insulted and falsely accused of illegal behavior wouldn’t appoint her to a leadership position, and as a result of her tantrum we the taxpayers have paid out $15,000 to prove that she was just mean and vindictive? Nice.

    By the way, Encinitas has NO Mayoral rotation and never has, so any sense of entitlement she has is not reality based. Read the City Municipal code.
    It only references “get a majority of the vote”.

    And finally, dear old Maggie Houlihan could have, under Roberts Rules of Order, declined the nomination. She didn’t, nor has she resigned the post hence which she could do… Me thinks she speaks with a forked tongue!

  2. Bob Hines says:

    Time for Teresa to go. The last thing we need here in Encinitas is a local San Diego School Board or Poway City Council-type infighting hassle. Let us not forget this next election.

  3. Crybaby says:

    What a biased rage this paper is…

    Did you guys even read the legal report?

    Simply put, Teresa Barth is not in any kind of employment relationship with Stocks and Dalager, or any other council member.  They are elected officials, who in accordance with US Supreme Court precedence are allowed to and should expect that other politician may at time say really rough nasty things about each other.  It’s how our Founding Father’s set our system up.  Maybe if you or Teresa ever read the Federalist Paper’s, you’d know this.  Even a high school student learns this in civics class.

    It is very clear that Teresa was the child here by retaliating for her own failing to garner the 3 votes she needed to move into the Deputy Mayor’s position.  And to top it off, you saying that Maggie didn’t want the position because she said so is another failing  or just bias to recognize another simple fact that by Parliamentary Procedure, all she had to do was to decline the nomination.  Instead, Teresa couldn’t even get the vote of Maggie when push came to shove.

    So let’s see, Teresa ran on and still claims to be the transparent government candidate, yet starts an sealed internal investigation at taxpayers expense.  Now that’s truly a say one thing, do something different politician for you.  

    In the end, Teresa filed a baseless claim, costing the citizens of Encinitas over $15,000 in these difficult economic times.  Just think what we could have done with this money to improve out parks, youth programs or pave some potholes in our streets.

    Teresa is clearly not cut out for working in our democratic system, needs to apologize to the citizens of Encinitas and to those she has baseless accused.  Finally, she should reimburse the taxpayers $15,000 for the cost of this retaliatory investigation and do us all a favor by not running for re-election.

    P.S.  You also didn’t disclose the fact that Teresa’s father works for your paper.

  4. Fairgoer says:

    Two point:

    1) The “technicality” referred to the headline is the fact that Teresa Barth did not understand that she was NOT an employee.

    This perhaps is because she worked ‘technically’ for the State of California as part of the 22nd Agricultural District.

    2) Veteran employees of the Del Mar Fair will tell you that she has a long history of this kind of retaliatory behavior. Because it is a ‘personnel’ matter, the reporters who contacted the Fair were not allowed access to her file.

    Portraying Chicken Little alone is not a leadership skill.

  5. coastnews says:

    I want to address claims that this newspaper is biased. We stand behind the article in question and feel it is balanced. There are quotes from parties on both sides of the issue.

    As for the inference that Bill Arballo being a columnist here would have anything to do with how the news is reported is false and insulting.

    We are willing to stand behind what we put out and we even put our names on it. Can you say the same?

    Laurie Sutton
    Managing Editor

  6. Tired Taxpayer says:

    All anyone needs to know about ALL of the smoke that Ms. Barth is fuming out across the skies to blind the public as to her shame can be traced to her documented complaint that she personally wrote.

    You can read all 12 ridiculous pages of immature retaliation at Encinitas Undercover.

    http://encinitasundercover.blogspot.com/

    You want more? Go to:

    http://www.nctimes.com/news/opinion/columnists/batra/article_7cff4baf-9475-5af7-a57f-9ee3d6361274.html

  7. Seen differently says:

    It could resonably be stated that if Mr Stocks had not theatrically waved the internal complaint during a council meeting, I would not be writing this. For Mr Stocks to imply that this was an act against open government is silly. It would appear appropriate. Further, to imply that Barth caused the city to spend this money is debateable. Easily the well compensated city attorney and city manager should have handled thi in house. Argeably, Barth should have known that she was not an employee, but the decission to spend the money on an outside law firm for a simple legal issue seems imprudent. Barth did not choose to have this money spent.
    Hoefully, in the future there will be a method for council member’s conflicts to be resolved in a fair for all manner. Unless that policy proposal was voted down by the ‘good old
    boys’, which is what happened.
    There is certainly blame that should be shared.

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