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Phoenix City Council to vote on sexual harassment policy for lawmakers

(Facebook/ City of Phoenix Communications)
LISTEN: Phoenix council sex harassment

PHOENIX — Tuesday will be a first in Phoenix history: The city council will vote on its first-ever sexual harassment policy regarding elected officials.

Councilwoman Kate Gallego – the city’s former vice mayor – said she took a look at the city charter after former Arizona State Rep. Don Shooter was accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

She was astounded, she said, to learn there is no policy covering sexual harassment allegations or actions from elected officials.

“It (also) doesn’t give the council the ability to remove a member who behaves badly,” she said. “In today’s world, unfortunately, we need that ability.”

Gallego said city staff came up with a proposal that includes three levels of punishment.

“There can be a fine against a council member, there can be censure. The most far-reaching penalty would be removal.

“The voters would have to vote on the ability to remove elected officials,” Gallego said, “but I’m fairly confident they’d be willing to give us that ability.”

Phoenix does have a code of ethics for elected officials. But there is no language in it that specifically mentions harassment of any kind – whether it’s sexual or anything else.

Councilman Daniel Valenzuela has also asked city staff to check into how the city should handle allegations against people serving on city boards and commissions.

Those individuals also are not covered under the city’s employee harassment policy.

The council’s policy session will begin at 2:30 p.m. at Phoenix City Hall.

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