The report is expected to be reviewed by the City Council on Monday.
Yim outlined a series of allegations against the mayor in a Sept. 6 memo to the city’s human relations department. She said that after a staff meeting on June 22, Gough engaged in aggressive and intimidating behavior toward her.
And in retaliation for her complaints about his behavior, she alleged, he refused to communicate with her, affecting her ability to perform her job. She also asserted that he made arbitrary and vindictive revisions to her 2011-2012 budget, reducing her staffing by 50 percent.
But in a report to the city, the Seabold Group, a Seattle consulting firm, found that while Gough sometimes was exceptionally agitated around Yim, the evidence was inconclusive as to which of them escalated the discussions during the June 22 confrontation.
The consultant’s review was launched after Yim laid out her allegations in the September memo and alleged that the city failed to properly respond to her complaints about Gough in a timely manner, resulting in her eventual resignation.
The confrontation and later alleged retaliation by Gough against Yim occurred during a year when the city was in turmoil.
The council started an investigation into Gough in April after his administrative assistant Stephanie Simpson accused him of demeaning and belittling her. The city paid Simpson $49,500 and gave her three months of benefits, and she left her job.
In August, five women employees signed a letter saying that the work environment under Gough was intolerable and that they had been subjected to “hostile and harassment-based working environments.”
In addition to Yim, the employees were Jill O’Cain, a court administrator, Katie Anderson, assistant director of Parks and Recreation, Vicki Heilman, assistant finance director, and Deputy Police Chief Karen Manser.
The City Council called on the mayor to resign.
Meanwhile, the city was facing a mammoth $22.4 million budget shortfall in its two-year budget.
Ultimately, the city ended up laying off 30 employees and raising a number of taxes and fees on residents and businesses for its 2011-2012 budget.
Staff reported that Yim left the June 22 meeting with Gough teary-eyed and upset. Yim said she felt physically threatened by Gough’s tone and demeanor during that confrontation.
The report said Gough appeared exceptionally agitated that day for reasons unrelated to Yim. The mayor blamed her reaction to “her emotional response to the overall stress that all of the staff were feeling as a result of the budget deficits.”
“The evidence is inconclusive regarding who was at fault for escalating the discussion between Ms. Yim and Mayor Gough during the staff meeting,” the report says.
However, Yim took sick and medical leave immediately following the incident and resigned in October.
Neither Yim nor Gough could be reached for comment.
Yim’s attorney, Kelby Fletcher, said in an e-mail that he was out of the country and not available for comment.
Katherine Weber, Lynnwood’s assistant city attorney, said that the city is “comfortable and confident” in the consultant’s investigation. “Ultimately, Ms. Yim’s claims were not substantiated by the investigation,” she said.
City Councilman Ted Hikel said the report shows that “the mayor did not do what Ms. Yim accused him of.
“I haven’t read anything in there that says she was right and the mayor was wrong,” he said. “The mayor was doing his duty. Her complaints were not justified by the circumstances … So that case, to me, is closed.”
The City Council has yet to formally review the report. But it is scheduled to do so on Monday, Council President Mark Smith said.
“It will be handled in executive session as personnel matters typically are,” he said.
“Our concerns are twofold, the liability of the city because of the mayor’s behavior and the impact it has on the city’s ability to function,” Smith said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; email@example.com.
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