ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- Winnebago County Administrator Carla Paschal filed an employee complaint in February alleging misconduct of Chairperson Frank Haney.
Independent investigation finds harassment in county board
The County State's Attorney's Office hired an independent investigator, Chuck Hervas, to interview Haney, Paschal and board members. The report states Hervas acknowledges Haney's concerns with Paschal, but he "utilized tactics that were insinuation, demeaning, and harmful to Ms. Paschal's professional reputation."
"I lose out." -Carla Paschal, Winnebago County Administrator
"I didn't feel like the constant harassment was going to stop," says Paschal. "It feels good to know I wasn't perceiving things incorrectly. But it doesn't change the fact that now I'm forced to leave the county. I like the job, I like the people. And I lose out."
The three specific acts of harassment include Haney saying she would bat her eyes to get what she wanted, suggesting she had a "creepy relationship" with board member Dave Fiduccia and threatening Pascal that he would suspend or terminate her if he could.
Most of Paschal's complaints did not violate county harassment policy.
Haney says in a statement "characterizing this as harassment is inaccurate, a diversion from the actual issue, and undercuts the real thing." He believes the dysfunctional relationship is due to mid-term ordinance changes to diminish his role as chairperson.
"I was absolutely concerned about the unprofessional and inappropriate relationships displayed between people directly involved in the disfranchisement of voters through the effective mid-term termination of the county chairman position," he says in the statement.
"Characterizing this as harassment is inaccurate, a diversion from the actual issue, and undercuts the real thing." -Frank Haney, Winnebago County Board Chairperson
Haney continues to argue these ordinance changes are violations of voter's rights. The report also states that the dysfunction stemmed from these changes.
Paschal, and other board members disagree.
"That's not true," says member Angie Goral. "This happened probably a year and a half ago, this isn't new."
When asked if the ordinance changes happened after the harassment rumors, Goral was quick to answer.
"Oh yes, that's why we changed them," she says. "We do change ordinances if they aren't being followed to begin with, or they're being abused we need to change them."
The report also says it was made clear to Hervas that ordinance changes were made to protect Paschal from working with Haney directly.
Paschal has no plans yet moving forward with the findings, but Hervas recommends Haney and all 20 board members go through harassment training.