Watertown’s former city manager still gets legal representation by city attorney

WWNY Watertown’s former city manager still gets legal representation by city attorney

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - He's Watertown's former city manager, yet Rick Finn will still get legal representation by City Attorney Robert Slye as a complaint against the city and Finn is investigated by New York state.

Finn resigned from his post in January following accusations by Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Erin Gardner that he created a hostile work environment.

But even though Finn has been gone for months, he will still get representation by the city's attorney. Here's why: Gardner has taken her complaint to the state Division of Human Rights. It will decide later this month if Gardner's complaint warrants an official hearing.

City Manager Ken Mix says the complaint against the city concerns the actions of Finn when he was a city employee. Because of this, Robert Slye has been and will continue to represent the city and Finn during any proceedings.

The city had its own independent investigation into Gardner's complaint against Rick Finn done, but the state investigation may be the only way the still secret report gets released.

At a rally where supporters chanted 'release the report' in support of Gardner, Mayor Jeff Smith said this to the crowd: "She's entitled to a public hearing if she wants one. She just has to ask for it."

But in a phone conversation with 7 News Tuesday, Smith clarified what he meant. He said Gardner could ask for a public hearing regarding her recent suspension over charges of misconduct and insubordination, but that doesn't mean the report would be made public.

There is a hearing regarding her suspension scheduled for June 17.

After reviewing the report, council says there was no hostile work environment.

Gardner contradicts that, saying the 5 pages of the 50-plus page report she read said a hostile work environment was created on a few different occasions and it gave the dates.

"This whole thing with the report from the independent investigation is too sketchy and going to human rights and continuing to go to human rights and fighting for what's right. It's the way to go and it's the way to get a report that's clean," she said.

While Channel 7 has tried for 3 months to get the secret report from Watertown, we aren't the only group City Attorney Slye has said no to.

Gardner says in the Division of Human Rights hearing in May, the state investigator asked Slye for a copy of the report and he also told her no.

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