Saturday, March 03, 2007

The downfall of a public figure

First, if any of you haven't watched the clip of Craig Ferguson's monologue about kicking people, especially celebrities and public figures, when they're down, you should.

Here's a link to the video posted by CBS on YouTube.

That said, this site isn't necessarily designed for humor, or making fun of people anyway. Its supposed to be discussion and images relating to the Quad Cities, local politics, and a lot of downtown Davenport stuff. Unfortunately, the story below relates to local politics. In addition to constantly being told what is happening with Anna Nicole's body, or Britney Spears's head, locally we have Alderman VanFossen.

Alderman faces sexual harassment claim -QCTimes

I read that headline this morning, and just thought "Please, not more..." First I'm going to comment on the substance of the newest issue, and then I'll say my piece.

Cyndi Webb, as many of you know, is the council's administrative assistant. One of the 2 or 3 comments I've deleted in 2 years of blogging alleged a relationship between her and the Alderman in question. I didn't think that kind of thing belonged on my blog, but now that this has happened people are going to talk about it whether I do or not. She has accused VanFossen of sexual harassment. I have no idea what did or didn't happen. I just have a couple points that I found interesting in the article. One, is the city administration's response. Supposedly, they said "What do you want us to do about it?" That sounds heartless, but really... what CAN they do about it? Its not like Mr. Malin can fire one of his bosses, Alderman VanFossen. Talk about a political hot potato, but its just another of the many awkward situations being created lately. I'd like to know what Webb thought Malin or Dolan would do?

The second thing is who is representing Ms. Webb. Maybe we don't have that many lawyers around here, but I find it odd that Mike Meloy would be involved in this, fighting the traffic cameras, Yerington's fight against the city, Taylor Height's fight against Cobblestone, and Rick Meyer's fight against the city on cleaning up his River Drive property, among other things. Its like the guy is making a living at representing people who want to fight Davenport City Hall. Like I said, maybe its just a matter of a limited number of QC lawyers, but I sure see his name a lot. So there might be more to all this than just an Alderman self-destructing. Or there might not be. Unfortunately, it somewhat fits with the recent pattern of news.

And now, QCI's opinion:
If VanFossen wasn't an Alderman, the news coverage on his personal problems would be beyond bizarre. However, he's one of the 11 people who is in charge of leading the City of Davenport. So on one hand, saying negative things about the man is certainly kicking someone when they're down. The guy is down; even those close to him would admit that, I think. On the other hand, the guy continues to submit himself to this scrutiny by refusing to step down as 1st Ward Alderman. If his reasons for staying on the council are truly honorable, at some point he has to see that all of this is not good for a City Hall already suffering from image problems.


Anonymous said...

You are niave. There are lawyers who specialist in things. Meloy apparently has the guts to take on city hall and obviously makes a living at it. If you have a lawsuit against the city, wouldn't you hire an attorney who has won against the city?

YOu are presuming that he is an ambulance chaser and you are wrong. You can't make this crap up.

In Davenprot it seems to be real.

Anonymous said...

What better lawyer to hire than one who saw from the inside how city hall screws people over? And he knows the law, which by the Times account this morning Mr.Malin and Mr. Dolan do not.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, she is blowing smoke! A woman scorned...

Joe American said...

Didn't Meloy once work in the city legal department. Didn't he get fired from the results of aligations, I'm not sure. But if he did, wouldn't you want someone to represent you that knows the system from the inside out and the cast of players?

Meloy has been the lawyer of choice when dealing with the city since then. He has represented Yerrinton along with other police officers, some fired firemen, and even a few at Public Works.

We can agree that this circus neeeds to leave town on the fast track and I would love to know it would be sooner than November. But maybe this is a good thing to exposing some of the other players at city hall. Cyndi's plate isn't all that clean either.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see in the newspaper article where Miss Cindi denied having a sexual encounter with the Alderman. How can you be "sexually harassed” when your doin’ it after hours with the guy? (I hope after hours!) Also, I think Ron is hanging on till November for the insurance.

Anonymous said...

This is typical Malin and Dolan response to problems at City Hall. Rather than deal with the issue, which in this case there are numerous procedures on dealing with harassment in the work place, they skirt around it by pretending it never happened, or removing the player. This is what happened to the NEO director (who was forced to resign)and the inspectors, because Malin and Dolin don't have the balls to stick up for their employees. These two need to go, and they need to go now.

Anonymous said...

How can any of you say for certain the Webb has slept with Vanfossen. Shame on you.

YOu are all getting her mixed up with another woman he is sleeping with you dopes.

QuadCityImages said...

11:35, how could Malin or Dolan "deal with the issue?"

HR doesn't get to fire Aldermen.

Dave said...

Van Fossen should, at the very least, resign for the good of the city. There has been too much mud slinging to justify a person of this caliber to represent the residents of Davenport, even if he's found not guilty of the charges. He's playing too close to the gutter and is distracting the rest of the council and city administration from the real work at hand.

Last Laugh said...

I feel Cyndi should have went above the state level to file a complaint. Take it from someone who knows. She will not get anywhere until she files a complaint at the federal level. At the federal level a citizen is treated very differently than they are at the city, county and state level. The corruption being committed by city employees is about to come to a screeching halt. City employees have committed wrong doing for years and have always gotten away with it. I for one, cannot wait to see how city employees, male and female, are going to look in prison garb.

QuadCityImages said...

I wish someone would answer my question of what city employees could possibly have done about this.

Anonymous said...

Mr QCI. First if the allegation is made, the City has a legal obligation to investigate it or leave the city liable. That to me is irresponsible management. Now whether the allegation is proven or not the city will possibly be held accountable for not moving forward on the investigation. All employees as stated by law are entitled to a harrassment free work place and it is the responsibility of the employer to guarantee that or be held liable to a lawsuit.

QuadCityImages said...

Ok, so say they do an investigation and discover that he did harass her or cause a hostile workplace.

What then? What can city staff do about wrongdoing by Aldermen?

Also, how do we know they aren't doing such an investigation?

Anonymous said...

· Wards elects thelderman, or, elected at large
· City pays an Alderman to serve
· City Council has the power to hire or fire the Administrator and other department heads.

So, Whom does Alderman VanFossen work for? Who is responsible for his supervision as an Alderman?

I assume from the QCT article that the lawsuit is filed naming VanFossen for what he is alleged to have done. I would assume the City Administrator and the Human Resource Director, as City Employees, were named because they have the pockets. After all, the remedy sought will be compensation.

I believe that VanFossen should have resigned after his second arrest. There is no reason why he should not be prosecuted for his previous arrests and, if the sexual harassment charges are proven, that he should not be held legally responsible. VanFossen has self-distructed and needs move on, hopefully into a treatment program.

The focus should be on VanFossen and the need for accountability for his actions, not as justification for a witch-hunt for personal vendettas against City and Staff.

Anonymous said...

QCI: YOu are not being for real are you? I think you are smart enough to understand stuff, so why is it so hard for you to get this?

This is a civil rights complaint. No matter who supervises Webb, her superiors are obliged to do something about her working conditions. The complaint says that Malin and Dolan are at fault too, so they are named in the action.

You allegations of that attorney just taking on city hall for money are whatever you think it an interesting one in light of your past opinions of city hall critics and the "AGAINSTERS". You are being certainly conspiracy minded aren't you? You often criticize others for acting the way you are now.

What if, QCI, there actually were problems with the way this city is run? We constantly find excuses for the bad behavior of our city adminstrator and council people and staff. Always and excuse.

Anonymous said...


The 12:43 post was not from QCI.

The comment simply posed the question as to who is responsible for supervising VanFossen’s actions.

No opinions of the validity of the actions were stated. If the allegations of sexual harassment are accurate, Webb should be awarded damages.

A lawyer hired is a lawyer paid. Someone has to foot the bill, or the lawyer took the lawsuit on a contingent fee (I win, I get paid). I doubt VanFossen’s assets would satisfy the judgment if an award were made. If the City was shown to be negligent, and an award made, the City has the ability to pay.

It’s all about protecting the rights of Ms Webb and it’s the business of funding the costs of the suit.

Anonymous said...

Would you think that the council would be self-governing? You would have thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for one of those running for mayor to step up and demand his fellow councilman to resign. Why didn't the 5th ward alderman call the media for a press release or sound bite? Because that would be " the pot calling the kettle black". They all have ghosts in their closets and if one turns on the others, then all hell will brake loose. I do hope it happens only to expose the slime we have in city hall.

QuadCityImages said...

I'm not defending VF.

I never wanted him to be elected, and I'm inclined to believe most of the accusations.

I'm just asking what Malin or Dolan could do if they investigated the complaints, and found that yes, he was sexually harassing the heck out of her. Its not the "normal" workplace situation where they just fire the guy. Why can't anyone understand what I'm asking?

Snarky Chick said...

I get what you're saying QCI and that was my first thought on the article. It sounds like they did try to do something (move her desk) and she refused. They also asked her what she wanted them to do since she had rejected their suggestions.

Mike Meloy was shopping for someone willing to sue the city on the speed cameras. He seems to have an agenda. Or maybe he just sees $$$$ signs.

Anonymous said...

In a sexual harassment case, you NEVER make the victim do things to avoid the perp, you make the perp do things to avoid the victim. This is basic personell dept. stuff. If Dolan doesn't know this, then he needs to be fired himself.

Snarky Chick said...

That's only if HR can control the offender and if the behavior has been confirmed. Taking steps to protect the accuser is the first step and she refused. HR had no way of keeping Van Fossen from her.

Anonymous said...

You all have screws loose. Have any of you actually seen Ms. Webb on the job? Most days she looks like a first class hooker. I'm not a fan of V.F. but unless you have the facts (TRUE FACTS)straight, how can you be so sure who's at fault? And another thing, accusing all city employees as being corrupt is about as bad as calling all blacks lazy. That kind of thinking should be long gone by now.

Anonymous said...

I understand this is not Ms. Webbs first sexual harassment case. When she worked for the county, see won a case ($25,000).

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh - Malin has gone after Keith Meyer more times then not and he doesn't say a flipping word to VanF - the drunk, wife beater and now sexual harasser. He can reprimand him and so can the other councilmen.

Anonymous said...

It is really no different than an alderman asking a city employee to give them preferential treatment on street plowing or a traffic ticket. This is just a more sensitive issue and may involve Malin to ask for an outside investigation similar to "faxgate."

As for lawyers Cartee, and Davidson I believe also are good hired guns to take on the city.

She is a city employee, so the city bears the responsibilty to follow through.

QCI I hope my daughters never work for you with your timid thinking.

QuadCityImages said...

You really just refuse to answer my question.

Ok, Malin brings in lawyers, Bladel, the feds, whoever, and finds out that VanFossen did sexually harass her.


Either us, the citizens, through some convoluted recall, or VF's fellow Aldermen have to remove him. The staff has no power over Aldermen.

Anonymous said...

QCI: Some get it, some don't get it and others have moved beyond the original question.

The council apperently supervises Ms Webb. The City pays MS Webb's wages.

It does not sound to me as though the City Administration stands in the first row.

The lawsuit will define responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Do any of those who have hired realize that Meloy has a losing record against the City? And do they realize that those who have hired get milked by his hourly rate? He doesn't necessarily work on a contingency fee.

He got fired for good cause. That's why he didn't get any severance or even try to take the City to court. He had a loser case and he knew it.

Anonymous said...

Meloy lost the Meyer case and soaked Yerington (along with the other lawyer) for more than 60% of what the council gave Yerington. It was one of the most obvious (and egregious) cases of political payback in the history of the world.

Anonymous said...

Having to file a sexual haressment complaint at my employers was not the highlight of my career. However, the personnel director took it serious (he knew what my charcter was and the other person involved.) and dealt with it. This person is now strickly professional with me and the work gets done.
I do not know the entire story with Ms. Webb, but when she went to Malin and/or Dolin they should of addressed this issue. Pointing fingers at who is responsibly does not solve the problem. Malin/Dolan could easily discussed this with VanFossen and had him sign off that this was discussed and was expect to cease. If this had been dealt with up front the city would not be in another mess.

Anonymous said...

QCI's solution: Throw up your hands and say "not my problem" I'm your boss not theirs. OK Pilot, wash your hands of this mess. Sounds like you and Malin should write a book on how to make big bucks while you avoid doing your job.

This paints a perfect picture of what is wrong with Davenport, nobody knows who is in charge and nobody will take charge. We have a City Administrator and a Human Resources Director that refuse to deal with personnel issues, and a council that wants to micro-manage every city department. So we are left with disgruntled, lazy, I'll do what I please, employees that reflect greatly on the ones who do give a rats ass about their job. This is one of the most mis-managed cities I have ever witnessed.

Malin and Dolin had an obligation to follow the procedures of the employee handbook with regards to matters of harassment. If they did not follow their own procedures, they will have cost the city tax payers a bundle, and should be terminated.

The Council too has a boss in the Mayor. Our problem is, he's inept at handling controversy. The tax payers better hope that Malin and Dolin would have at least had a conversation with him about the complaint.

God, help us!

Anonymous said...

QCI- Can the people of Daveport's 1st Ward and others sign a petition to remove an alderman from office? They are the one's who put him there, just a question.

QuadCityImages said...

I asked that question many times during the whole 4 year terms debate. I felt that there needed to be a clear way of removing an Alderman if we were going to "trust" them for 4 years. People posted that there was a state method, but nobody has ever told me where I can learn more about it. I've done some google searching with no real luck.

So, I guess my answer to that is, I think there's a way to remove your Alderman, but I'm not sure. I certainly don't know how to go about it.

How do you know that this wasn't "looked into"? All we have is one side's complaint, and one side's "no comment." I'm just trying to explain how crappy of a situation this is. If Malin does anything, he can be accused of "going after" one of the Aldermen who is on the "side" that generally isn't a big fan of his. Hamerlinck and company would not react well to Malin coming to the council and requesting that they remove VanFossen. So city staff has been handed essentially a highly political situation where they are screwed either way.

I must say, this all makes me wonder what Gibbs would have done in office. Probably not this.

Anonymous said...

Malin's made his bed now he gets to lie in it.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what I'm talking about QCI. Malin has a controversial situation, so what does he do, he runs from it. He puts the pressure back on the employee rather than dealing with what might put him in a position to be scrutinized by doing his job. He's not a leader, he's a coward. I refer back to the situation with the former NEO manager who was forced to resign even though he did nothing inappropriate, illegal, or wrong. Malin's refusal do deal with these problems because he's scared to put himself in a "political pickle" is costing the tax payers way more than his luxury salary. Quit making excuses for him.

Anonymous said...

Well said 8:22, we need to find the leader from within to start pushing the right buttons and get this clown out.

Anonymous said...

to 9:05. That would be Alderman Meyer.

Anonymous said...

Correction. That IS Alderman Meyer

QuadCityImages said...

Its pretty odd to me here that the villain has magically become Craig Malin instead of Ron VanFossen...

Probably because the one who caused this mess votes the way "anonymous" likes, and Malin has real and innovative ideas.

Its the same kind of bull as having a petition to remove the at-large positions because you don't like who's there now. If D1 sponsored a drive to combine the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wards, you guys would scream bloody murder.
That's called hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Youre getting way too personal QCI. I respect you supporting the Aldermen you voted for, do the same for others. No one elected Mr. malin.