Today, Shawn Selleck, the City Clerk, submitted his resignation, effective immediately.
The City Council was prepared to hold a public hearing this week to address the serious charges that had been brought against Mr. Selleck under Providence Home Rule Charter Section 403.
The hearing would have been the first time the City Council held a Section 403 proceeding, which is the only means to remove an appointed department director who refuses to resign amid alleged misbehavior as a supervisor. On October 7th, the City Council voted to begin the termination process for Mr. Selleck. The Council’s action was based on the findings of an independent report issued by Attorney Carly Iafrate regarding her investigation into complaints by Clerk’s Office staff members against Mr. Selleck. The report stated that Mr. Selleck violated the City Code of Conduct–specifically City anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies–as well as the City’s Workplace Violence Policy and created a toxic work environment in the City Clerk’s office. Additionally, the report concluded that staff members experienced harm due to Mr. Selleck’s behavior.
Council President John J. Igliozzi stated, “With the resignation of Mr. Selleck, effective immediately, the three female deputy clerks will not have to re-live their experiences in a public hearing. Rightly so, Mr. Selleck decided to resign before the hearing took place—a hearing which would have included public testimony from the three staff members and others who detailed their experiences in the Iafrate report.
“This situation has once again demonstrated the incredible courage and strength it takes for victims of alleged abuse and harassment to come forward. These three women put their safety and well-being first, and in doing so, subjected themselves to public scrutiny, and repeated commentary that minimized and mischaracterized their experiences. The situation has also brought to light serious questions about how workplace bullying and harassment complaints are handled in the City and the inequity and restraints involved in disciplining and firing appointed officers, even in egregious cases of alleged misbehavior.
“Bullies and harassers have no place in City Hall, or any workplace. Abusive and harassing behavior of any kind cannot be tolerated, and it certainly will not be tolerated on my watch as Council President. The City Council has a duty to protect City employees from harm, and I am proud to say the Council took that duty seriously in this case.
“The appalling accusations by staff members about Mr. Selleck’s alleged bullying and harassing behavior led the Council to pursue a Section 403 termination hearing. While Mr. Selleck and his attorney attempted to mislead the public with a false narrative at the expense of these women and their experiences, the City Council chose to believe the women. The entire City Council fulfilled its duty and obligation to protect City employees from harm, and unanimously voted to exercise the Council’s Charter-established checks and balances, by charging Mr. Selleck with the following: 1) Violation of the City Code of Conduct; 2) Violation of the City anti-bullying policy; 3) Violation of the City anti-harassment policy; 4) Violation of the City Workplace Violence policy; 5) Creation of a Toxic Work Environment; and 6) Inappropriate management (see resolution here).
“Thanks to the members of the City Council, who unanimously voted to issue these charges against Mr. Selleck, he submitted his resignation today. We can now move forward and reinvest in a fully functional City Clerk’s office that will be equitable, respectful and centered on transparency and accessibility to the public.
“Thank you as well to Council Chief of Staff Jim Lombardi who flagged the seriousness of the staff members’ complaints. I also want to thank the City Solicitor Jeff Dana for his counsel guiding us through the Section 403 process, and to the outside prosecutor he hired, Lauren Iannelli, who had begun excellent preparations for the hearing. And of course, thank you to Attorney Carly Iafrate whose thorough and even-handed investigation provided the City Council with the information we needed to address this horrible situation.”