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Date of Issue: August 02, 2007

Islander v. Chappie hearing Thursday

When a complaint was made to the city of Bradenton Beach by building department employee Gail Garneau that she had been the victim of sexual harassment, she named her department head, Ed McAdam, and shortly thereafter he resigned his $82,000-per-year position.

Both employees were on “administrative leave” when the complaint became public.

A city commission meeting was held March 8, shortly after Garneau’s undated complaint was made public, and the commission accepted McAdam’s resignation without discussion.

Numerous attempts by The Islander to obtain any documentation of the alleged harassment or other records associated with McAdam’s resignation failed. Only a few pages of documents were provided by the city’s records clerk, Nora Idso, and although attempts were made to resolve the matter and obtain documentation, the lawsuit resulted.

The handful of related records that were released included Garneau’s complaint notice and a memo from the mayor to McAdam labeled “confidential.”

A hearing will be held Aug. 2 in the case filed by The Islander newspaper against Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, a lawsuit alleging violations of Florida’s public records laws and Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws.

The court will hear several motions Thursday.

Circuit Court Judge Peter Dubensky will consider The Islander’s request that the court either rule that the city violated the public records and Sunshine Laws based upon the admissions contained in the city’s answer to the lawsuit or set an immediate trial date to hear all the evidence.

The court will also hear the city’s motions asking the court to rule in its favor based upon an affidavit from the city’s attorney, Ricinda Perry.

Perry also intends to present a second motion asking the court to prevent The Islander from taking depositions.

She hopes to prevent The Islander’s attorney, Kendra Presswood, from asking questions of the mayor, commissioners and other witnesses to find out what discussions they had outside of public meetings concerning the sexual harassment complaint, the resignation of McAdam, and the ensuing investigation conducted by her law firm, Lewis Longman & Walker, P.A.

Similarly, Perry is attempting to prevent Presswood from asking about documents in existence which have not been produced in response to the public records requests.

The secrecy involves allegations of sexual harassment against former building official McAdam and the resulting investigation.

Depositons of McAdam, city clerk Idso and Garneau, Chappie and city commissioners, Perry and attorney Greg Hootman are scheduled for Aug. 13-17.

In spite of numerous additional requests made by The Islander to Perry and the mayor and commissioners, no records have been provided to substantiate Garneau’s claim or Perry’s alleged investigation of McAdam, which was allegedly “concluded” June 27.

No explanation has been provided as to how the city took any action related to the matter without a public meeting.

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