Investigation Finds Reno City Hall Plagued By Dysfunction

Dec 30, 2016

Investigation reports on the allegations against former Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger were released this week, shedding some light on the events that led to his resignation. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke to contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more. 

Former City Manager Andrew Clinger and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.
Credit ThisisReno.com

KUNR: Bob Conrad of ThisisReno, thanks for joining me.

Bob Conrad: Thanks for having me.

KUNR: Can you break down what documents have been released?

BC: Essentially, the city released two investigative reports by two legal outfits. One was a local attorney, and then another was done out of a law firm based out of Las Vegas by a former judge, Judge Wall.

KUNR: The allegations made by three female employees against Andrew Clinger were made several months ago. Can you remind us what those entailed?

BC: Well, it was very vague originally, but what was originally reported was that two women were claiming sexual harassment and one, it turns out, was claiming retaliation. Again, these reports were heavily redacted, so we don’t know exactly what the nature of the complaints were.

KUNR: For the two allegations related to sexual harassment, how much do we know about those?

BC: Well, essentially what was in the report is that there were allegedly two instances of physical contact between the former city manager and female employees. Based on the reports, those claims did not seem to be substantiated, but there was evidence of a hostile work environment and possibly some retaliation.

KUNR: Let’s talk about the work environment more. This was almost 100 pages that started to give a glimpse into the inner-workings of city hall. What did you learn?

BC: You know, I attend a lot of city hall meetings, city council, and those kinds of things. And there’s definitely a public face to city council that’s presented, and what these reports show is that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff going on that’s not quite consistent with the public image that the city would like to present.

KUNR: Can you expand on that?

BC: Yeah, in one example, it was noted in the investigation that the city manager was having employees use apps where text messages would be erased after they were read so that they would not be discoverable through public records requests. It’s noted in the report that it’s not really appropriate for a high-level city manager to be doing that, and I believe Andrew Clinger realized that in the subsequent investigation and questioning. 

KUNR: And there were three women involved in this, but none of them were interviewed. Why was that?

BC: It’s been reported that the three women wanted to be interviewed under their own conditions, which the city would not agree to, so essentially what this most recent report says is that the women’s statements were taken from the first report, which was looking into the sexual harassment allegations.

KUNR: That must have been a real challenge for the investigators.

BC: Yes, and at this point, the city is bracing itself for litigation, presumably by the three women against the city, so I believe that’s going to be the next chapter in this story.

KUNR: Have we heard a lot from Andrew Clinger since his resignation? Has he responded to the release of these documents?

BC: Not to my knowledge, and the last time I tried to get in touch with him about this, I did not get a reply back.

KUNR: But he did claim that this was a conspiracy, right? That word came up a lot.

BC: Yeah, he was claiming that this was a conspiracy by these employees; however, the investigator, Judge Wall, basically said “conspiracy” might be too harsh of a term, but definitely there was a coordinated effort to basically get him ousted as city manager and that effort included city council people, it included employees—that’s at least what’s in the report.

KUNR: Bob Conrad of ThisisReno, thank you.

BC: You bet. Thank you.