Watertown lawmakers say they’re willing to release Finn report if ...

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 6:59 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown city council formally voted Monday night to appeal the release of a secret report involving the conduct of former city manager Rick Finn.

But it’s possible the report could be released before an appellate court looks at.

After an hour-long executive session, the city council voted unanimously to ask Supreme Court Justice James McClusky to redact the names and titles of city employees who are part of the secret report that investigated a hostile work environment complaint against Finn.

“People gave testimony and were told that it would be anonymous and they have every right to be protected,” Mayor Jeff Smith said. “Also, it protects people in the future. If somebody has a sexual harassment complaint, if their testimony is not going to be held strict and the general public is going to know everything that went on, they are less apt to come forward.”

Judge McClusky ordered the city to disclose that report after 7 News took city government to court. But city officials voted to move forward with an appeal.

Judge McClusky also ordered the city to pay 7 News' legal fees. Along with redactions, the city is asking McClusky to reconsider those fees.

“When we did not release the report, we were acting in response to an opinion from the Committee on Open Government, which is generally reliable,” council member Sarah Compo said, “so we don’t feel that our paying the attorney’s fees is warranted at this point.”

Compo and council member Jesse Roshia told us if those two requests are met they would feel comfortable releasing the report.

The city has been under increasing pressure to release it.

“With regards to the report being released, I do not have an issue at this point, as I do feel it will vindicate the council,” Rochia said.

City officials say so far the appeal has cost the city $65, but Smith says if the process plays out it will likely cost the city around $1,000.

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