I am a lawyer. I write this letter sensitive to concerns that each of you, as public servants, might have about attorney-client privilege or litigation risk. Because of those concerns, you might have reasons not to disclose the contents (or some contents) of the “Independent Investigation” Report you have commissioned to uncover facts about sexual misconduct by lakefront staff and the City’s response to it. On the other hand, the competing values of transparency and democratic accountability would seem to be very strong here. But either way, and this is my main point, you should make a stand-alone decision about disclosing the Report, separate from any agreement with Erika Storlie.
Whether to disclose the Report should be the City’s decision – and only the City’s decision. I struggle to imagine any circumstances that could justify forfeiting control over that decision (to Erika Storlie or anyone else) – including, for example, by forfeiting the right not to make a decision now and instead make it later. But Erika Storlie’s severance agreement, unless changed, would surrender all those rights, capitulating to her desire, apparently, to keep the Report under wraps. (The proposed severance agreement would tie the City’s hands; it requires that “The Report and its contents are confidential and privileged and shall not be disclosed by the City unless required by law”).
Giving Erika Storlie, in effect, a veto over disclosure is a mistake. And so is pre-committing to bury a report even before knowing what it says.
If press accounts are accurate, there has already been a cover-up of horrifying allegations here. Don’t compound that mistake with a cover-up of the cover-up – by committing, irrevocably, to cover up the Report on the cover-up.
I’m not the only Evanston resident making these points. If you disagree with them, I think it would behoove you, as public officials, to explain why, publicly, honoring the Mayor’s already expressed commitment, https://www.facebook.com/DanielBiss, “to full transparency with the community as we go through this process.”
By Joshua Karsh