Tempe City Councilman Kolby Granville was formally disciplined for a Code of Conduct violation for using an expletive during a work group meeting.
The reprimand is the first given to a councilmember under the city’s code since it was adopted in 2009.
The disciplinary action is the result of an independent investigation into Granville’s interaction with an assistant city attorney on Jan. 11.
Because the incident involved a member of the city attorney’s office, private employment attorney James Burr Shields was brought in to conduct the investigation.
According to Burr Shields’ statement: “Mr. Granville and (redacted) exchanged different views with one another regarding the subject of the meeting … This exchange lasted approximately 30 minutes.
“At the conclusion of the discussion … Mr. Granville referred to (redacted) advice as ‘sh--ty.’”
The staffer said that the discussion with Granville was humiliating and that the staffer’s reputation had been “trashed.” The staffer also feared being fired for objecting, according to the investigation.
The report also found that there had been four previous complaints against Granville by city employees. One was resolved through mediation and the others weren’t serious enough to warrant the employees’ participation in this investigation.
Mayor Mark Mitchell was not surprised by the findings.
“He (Granville) kind of has that reputation, it was said at the council meeting and it was written in the report,” he said.
Councilmember Lauren Kuby and her colleagues agreed that censure was a step too far.
“To do censure implies that this was the worst thing we could do. The advice given was that when censure has been applied (elsewhere) in Arizona it was for something conceivably far worse,” Kuby said.
Instead, the council unanimously decided to issue a letter of reprimand to Granville and to require him to formally apologize to the complainant.
The letter of reprimand will be drafted by Burr Shields and presented to the council for approval at its next meeting.
Granville issued an informal apology on his Facebook page the day before the decision was made. He stated:
“Unfortunately, my sense of urgency and excitement caused me to utter a foul word when I was provided information from city staff that I believed was an incomplete and incorrect review of legal case law.”