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SANTA CRUZ >> In a tense and emotional meeting Tuesday, the Santa Cruz City Council stopped short of a censure against Councilmember Drew Glover and instead formally noted that he violated a workplace conduct policy. 

As Santa Cruz Local first reported last year, the city hired an independent lawyer to look into a complaint of workplace misconduct against Glover. The complaint had to do with a Facebook post Glover wrote in November about the resignation of two members of the city’s Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women. Three commission members filed the complaint.

More than a dozen community members spoke at Tuesday’s Santa Cruz City Council meeting, regarding Councilmember Drew Glover’s violation of the city’s Respectful Workplace Conduct policy. Most speakers were in support of Glover. (Kara Meyberg Guzman — Santa Cruz Local)

Attorney Timothy Davis found that Glover violated the city’s Respectful Workplace Conduct policy with “disregard of the feelings, rights or safety” of the two commissioners “in a manner perceived by a reasonable person to be derogatory, insulting, bullying, humiliating, sabotaging or undermining of their work performance, slanderous, malicious rumor-spreading or the like,” according to a Dec. 6 letter from Davis to Glover.

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At Tuesday’s meeting, Glover read his lengthy email response to Davis. He disagreed with Davis’ findings. “I do not believe that pointing them out or criticizing their behavior in any way is in any way disrespectful or in any way retaliatory,” Glover read.

Glover went on to say that “it’s been a fascinating experience” dealing with the complaints and the findings, and said that the city policy meant to protect workers has been used to “silence political opposition” and “defame elected officials.”

“I want to take responsibility for any discomfort or hurt that I may have caused people with interactions,” Glover said. “And I want to stress that I am in no way suggesting I’m without blame in any of the conflicts that have occurred. And I apologize. Which I did already on Yom Kippur. But I also want to point out, which someone else brought up also, that conflict is a two-way street.” 

He said his colleagues and the complainants have placed all of the responsibility on him.

Rachel O’Malley, who is married to Councilmember Chris Krohn, sings a song she wrote about the First Amendment at Tuesday’s Santa Cruz City Council meeting, ahead of a discussion about Councilmember Drew Glover’s Facebook post. “It isn’t nice, but thanks for your advice, that is freedom’s price,” she sang. (Kara Meyberg Guzman — Santa Cruz Local)

The discussion on the dais was at times emotional and reflective. Councilmember Martine Watkins said she took responsibility for her actions, referring to a statement she made at a Feb. 12, 2019 meeting in which she accused Councilmembers Chris Krohn and Glover of bullying her because of her gender. 

Watkins wanted to discuss censuring Glover.

“If we don’t, our silence by default condones, and I’m not OK with that. I’m just not,” Watkins said. “One of the things about healing is about personal accountability.”

A formal censure is the only kind of consequence that the council can impose for a violation of the city policy. Censure is symbolic. It would not limit the council members’ ability to propose legislation, weigh in on legislation or participate in council votes.

Vice Mayor Donna Meyers invited her fellow council members to bring a censure forward against her if they thought her actions on the dais warranted it. She was obliquely referring to the Sept. 24 meeting at which she slammed her hand on the dais and told Glover not to call her a racist since she said she has been an “out lesbian” for decades. The topic had been brought up earlier during public comment.

Meyers made a motion to censure Glover. Glover then seconded his own censure.

Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Donna Meyers says it was a difficult decision to bring forward a censure against her fellow council member Drew Glover. (Kara Meyberg Guzman — Santa Cruz Local)

He withdrew his second after Councilmember Sandy Brown made a substitute motion: that the mayor send a letter to Glover acknowledging the violation, expressing “disapproval” and urging him to stick to the policy in the future.

Watkins and Mathews asked Brown to change “disapproval” to “censure,” but Brown refused.

The council voted 4-3 for Brown’s motion, with Mayor Justin Cummings and Councilmembers Chris Krohn, Drew Glover and Sandy Brown in favor. Councilmembers Martine Watkins, Cynthia Mathews and Vice Mayor Donna Meyers voted against.

Listen to our related stories here (Members, log in to read the transcripts.):

Next steps 

A committee of Councilmembers Mathews, Krohn and Glover have been working to create a code of ethics and conduct policy for elected and appointed officials.

A draft is expected to be discussed by the city council in April.

The policy work is one of several outcomes of an independent investigation last year of Councilmembers Krohn and Glover that found that each violated the city’s Respectful Workplace Conduct policy. A lawyer found that Krohn violated the policy when he allegedly laughed, scoffed or snorted at a staffer during her presentation to the city council last year. Glover violated the policy when he had a terse exchange with then-councilmember Donna Meyers last year, regarding Meyers overstaying her scheduled time in a conference room.

Santa Cruz Mayor Justin Cummings, Vice Mayor Donna Meyers and Councilmembers Chris Krohn and Drew Glover discuss bringing forward a censure against Glover at Tuesday’s city council meeting. (Kara Meyberg Guzman — Santa Cruz Local)

The city council in September voted unanimously to create the code of ethics and conduct policy.

Another outcome from that meeting was that the council undergo professional mediation. Lejla Bratovic, executive director at Conflict Resolution Center, on Tuesday gave a presentation about her individual conflict resolution coaching sessions with the councilmembers and mediation among councilmembers.

The topics included a willingness to take responsibility, how to separate the person from the problem, and how to arrive at solutions without attacking or making it personal.

She said she wanted to have a closed mediation session with all the council members, but the city attorney advised against it due to a possible Brown Act violation.

One of Bratovic’s recommendations to the council was to immediately call for mediation when conflict arises.

“Don’t let it linger, don’t let it build up, don’t let it go on. It’s our basic 101, what we teach, like really,” Bratovic said. “Unaddressed conflict, it builds resentment. It grows much bigger until it really explodes, as we’ve seen.”

In other news

  • The recalls of Councilmembers Drew Glover and Chris Krohn inched forward Tuesday with updated election results that showed both members past the 50% threshold. The “yes” vote for the recall of Glover had 55.4% of the vote. The “yes” vote for Krohn’s recall had 53.1% of the vote. The expected replacements, Renee Golder and Katherine Beiers, would be seated after the election is certified. The results are still unofficial as votes are still being counted.
  • The city council Tuesday unanimously advanced a “Menstrual Equity” program that would place feminine hygiene products, such as pads and tampons, in city employee bathrooms. The council intends to expand the program to city-owned facilities, such as the Louden Nelson Community Center and the Civic Auditorium. The city council also wants to partner with local agencies so that feminine hygiene products can be freely available in jails, schools and homeless shelters.

Kara Meyberg Guzman is the CEO and co-founder of Santa Cruz Local. ​Prior to Santa Cruz Local, she served as the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s managing editor. She has a biology degree from Stanford University and lives in Santa Cruz.