SUMMARY OF DEPOSITION OF SARA TEASDALE
Sara Teasdale is the former Mayor of the City of Bloomington, serving two 6-year terms beginning in January 1988 She did not run for re-election in the Fall
of 1999, leaving office December 31, 1999. She is 60 years old. She is married to Stephen Crane, a law professor. They have two grown children, Hart and
Nathalia. She lives at 1601 Ruby Ln, 332-4924.
Marianne Moore has sued the city and Teasdale personally for an incident of sexual harassment in the Department of Human Resources. Teasdale knows nothing about this, and would rarely be involved in a department on such a micro-level.
When Teasdale was mayor, she was in charge of policy. She was advised by a council of high-ranking city administrators, headed by Deputy Mayor James Riley. City government was divided into departments, each with its own department head who was relatively autonomous. In general, each department head had autonomy to hire and fire his or her own people, and to make administrative and management decisions on how best to execute policy within their departments. But, they did not have the power independently to set policy. Only Teasdale (or the City Council) could make policy for the City. All of the other employees, including Deputy Mayor Riley and Will Hunt, had specific delegated jobs. If they had any policy proposals, changes or questions, they had to bring them to Teasdale. However, she did occasionally appoint a department head to represent her on various commissions if it seemed relevant for somebody with specific expertise to go rather than her.
Teasdale describes Jim Riley as her chief assistant and advisor. He was also the affirmative action officer for the City and he was in charge of personnel issues including complaints. She used to call him her "chief of staff." Riley was also in charge of public relations and handling compliance with federal and state regulations.
Will Hunt was Director of Human Resources for the City. His job was to hire, train, fire, and supervise employees, and to administer benefits, job training, counseling and insurance programs for city employees.
Teasdale had no knowledge that Hunt hired Marianne Moore as his secretary. He's responsible for his own hiring. Teasdale says she does not know personally any of the details of their relationship. In fact, until the story came out in the local paper, she knew nothing at all about any sexual harassment complaint against Will Hunt.
Teasdale says that her administration had one or two race or sex complaints a year. As far as she recalls, none ever went to litigation. Most of them were unfounded, as far as she knows based on investigation.
With respect to Moore, Teasdale says that if there had been a formal sexual harassment complaint filed, she would have gotten a copy of it, would have known about it, and certainly would have taken it seriously. She says she would have made sure that Jim Riley investigated it seriously. She assumes that since she never saw a formal complaint from Marianne Moore, that in fact no such complaint was ever made. She states she certainly would never have told Riley to consciously delay the prompt processing of a complaint, in Moore's case or anyone else's. Her policy was to act promptly. Teasdale states that being female herself, who had to fight her way through the political glass ceiling, she takes complaints of sexual harassment seriously. She says she told Jim Riley several times at the beginning of his job that he was to take these seriously to head off the very kind of adverse publicity that happened in the Moore case.
Teasdale was out of town when the story in the Choice came out. She did not find out about it until she returned, which was several days after its publication. She was furious at Jim Riley for not notifying her the day it came out, so she could do something about it. Teasdale says it was the last straw for her, and she fired Riley on the spot when she got back. She says she had been having trouble with him just not doing his job thoroughly for some time.
Teasdale denies giving the order to fire Marianne. She states that this is not the first time a lower-level employee of the City has made a political statement that indirectly criticizes the City. That's part of the process of being in a political system, and Teasdale says she understands the process, it doesn't bother her. In her administration, there was a written policy that assured all employees of the right to free political speech and free political participation in any party they wanted without retaliation.
I asked about the newspaper story, and she said it was wrong in two respects. First, it reported that there had been previous sexual harassment complaints. In context, it implied there were previous charges against Hunt himself. Teasdale says both are false. There had never been a successful sexual harassment claim in her administration. Second, it implied that city policy was not to do anything. To the contrary, she says she had a specific policy that required the department heads to take prompt action in an attempt first to work out the problem among themselves. If they fail to do so after a reasonable time, she gets involved through the Deputy Mayor's office to resolve the issue.
Teasdale says she has nothing against Marianne Moore. Moore may indeed have been harassed by Will Hunt, although he denied it and Teasdale says she believes him. She therefore had no reason (nor any opportunity) to give Moore a bad reference. Teasdale says she didn't give recommendations for former employees -- that was handled by Riley's office. Teasdale never instructed him or Hunt or anyone to retaliate against Moore, fire her, give her a bad reference, or anything like that.