Letter: Not convinced there was workplace harassment


Ever since the city manager put out a notice of a closed session regarding the complaint from herself regarding workplace harassment, it seems that most people have concluded that George Weiss was a part of this because of the wording on the notice. First of all, no one can just say they were harassed. Where is this proof? Was it shared in a closed session? If it was, were the correct actions taken? The fact the city manager received a large pension and retirement package does not convince me that there was workplace harassment. If there was, we would have heard about it long before the agreement was made to “allow her to leave.”

I think the city council harassed George Weiss with the closed-session announcement. It was vague but posted on the city’s site so we’d see it. If it was a true harassment case, they would never put that where the public could see it because that continues the harassment. It brings the public in, which is happening now. George is getting harassed daily. There are procedures for dealing with workplace harassment. Announcing it in a closed session isn’t how it should have been handled.

First, the city isn’t obligated to honor any request made by the complainant, but if there are reasonable steps such as a short stress leave or removal of the complainant from a job duty that requires direct contact with the elected official, those options should be considered. Second, speak with the councilmember. It’s often more effective if the city attorney speaks with the councilmember alone to explain candidly the city’s potential liability without causing embarrassment to the councilmember. The key points to convey are:

  1. The nature of the allegations.
  2. The city’s legal obligation to investigate the allegations.
  3. Advice to cease contact with the complainant, to the extent possible, and not to take any action that could possibly be perceived as retaliatory. 

Third, initiate an investigation by a third-party investigator. Investigating allegations against an elected official should follow regular city policy, except the elected official cannot be compelled to participate. An investigation report should be prepared, and the results should be shared first with the councilmember and then with the full city council. In most situations, sharing the report with the city manager would also be appropriate. 4. If the investigator sustains the allegations, the city attorney or city manager should explain to the councilmember why such conduct puts the city at risk and may put the councilmember at risk, too. 5. If the allegations are sustained, the complainant’s supervisor, in consultation with the city manager, should determine what can be done to protect the complainant from future harassing conduct. The complainant’s input should be sought, and no action taken to protect them should appear punitive. For example, alteration of job duties may be considered, but only if the complainant wants that to occur.

The fact that they offered the city manager a package to leave tells me she is at fault for something and used the harassment threat to get this package, knowing she would lose her job for something other than what the closed session wants us all to believe. I find this more harassing and damaging than anything Mr. Weiss has done to the city manager. Think about it. Who writes and puts up the agenda? She knew what she was doing.

Liza Stewart, Laguna Beach.

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  1. Well analyzed, Liza. However it assumes a level of familiarity and competence with employment practices that this person clearly does not have.
    Her specialty is flattery, manipulation and self-promotion to her two superiors: the mayor and mayor pro tem and her biggest advocate, former councilman Blake. Add to that great skill at using the well-heeled male columnists here as her PR flaks by playing to their misogyny as a poor damsel in distress and there you have it:
    These are the forces that cost us a half million bucks with the adept assistance of an aged-out so-called city attorney. Time for the old guard to follow him and her out the door!
    Fasten your seat belts, Council-members Orgill and Rounaghi! You have joined the new guard and we are looking forward to restoring trust in Laguna Beach government!

  2. Amen! Because four City Council members chose to accept a harassment/hostile workplace accusation by an employee who was under increasing scrutiny and not to pursue the truth in no way means that Weiss is guilty of anything. Or that Ms. Dupuis is not.

    Sadly, we will never know the truth or why the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and exiting City Attorney took such action in record time to appease this CM.

    To me the Council’s action to negotiate with such a controversial CM at a public official’s professional expense was a disservice to him. But then, these same four public officials allowed this CM to make the same defamatory charges against four residents (me included) and never blinked an eye. No request for proof. And no support ever shown for the falsely accused four or for their co-council member George Weiss only asking for CM accountability.

    Laguna residents; don’t settle for officials who refuse to be transparent with us and govern our City in such a manner. We can’t afford their special interest deals and decision blunders.

  3. Liza, of all her missteps the final one that Whalen an Kemp could not tolerate because it would hurt them politically was the illegal action taken on the criminal trespassing and felony destruction of property at the Hotel the Hotel Laguna and 14 West by Mo and his armed thugs. Correction it was Mo who was the armed thug according to court documents. Why did Dupuis feel like she had to allow Mo commit a felony and let him off Scot free? Not only was he not arrested but the rightful owners of the two properties (one is a lease) and their guests were ordered to vacate the properties by midnight.

    The damage was more, much more than the $400 dollar amount which constitutes a felony in California and according to the Laguna Beach Police Department Manual Mo and his thugs should have been arrested. The penalty for this felony is a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of up to one year in jail. And since one of the perpetrators (Mo) was armed there is an additional one year in jail.

    So with the leadership of Dupuis and the concurrence the City Attorney, Mayor Whalen and Mayor pro tem Kempf Mo and his thugs were allowed to leave with no arrests. One can conclude that there has to be some strange relationship between Mo and the ex City Manager aided and abetted by the ex City Attorney the Mayor and the Mayor pro tem.

    Additionally I also believe that MOM may have given the City an ultimatum about Dupuis. In their position I certainly would have told them “either she goes or you will have a lawsuit to include a criminal conspiracy of the City government among other things”. That would have been politically devastating to both Whalen and Kempf. So therefore since Whalen and Kempf were involved in the decision not to arrest Mo and Dupuis had to leave why not blame George Weiss? It’s like the old trick of “look at the shiny pendant”. It seems like those two figured rather than fire her for cause a retirement package whose ultimate cost is around $1,500,000 was well worth it after all it’s not their money (it’s our money) and it would avoid a potential politically and financially devastating lawsuit. This is why we must consider who we vote for next election.

  4. Excellent analysis Chris and one I have made as well. Whalen/Kempf saw a great solution to their complicity in the May 2 debacle – get rid of Dupuis and the problem goes away. Blame it on Weiss and we score again – we take out a political rival who always makes us look bad bc he asks the questions that we want hidden. Quite Machiavellian. And that’s why they need to exit the council. I don’t trust either one of them to have the residents’ interest at heart – just theirs.


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