TOWN OF WALLKILL – A highly critical report conducted by an attorney specializing in employment matters related to sexual, racial, disability harassment and LGBTQ matters, found that Wallkill Town Supervisor Frank DanDento (Frank D) should be issued a “Final Written Warning” and should be placed on probation for the remainder of his term. The report was obtained by Mid-Hudson News.
His current term expires on December 31, 2021 and he is seeking re-election to another two-year term in the November general election.
The town board hired attorney Michelle Phillips to explore allegations that DanDento repeatedly used vulgar language, was demeaning toward and undermined the authority of Town Comptroller Toni Tracy (Toni T) with the goal of removing her from office.
In a 40-page investigative report, Phillips outlined numerous interviews with Tracy and several other town employees, reviewed emails, audio recordings and other evidence to come to her conclusion.
Town Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Neil Meyer, a certified public accountant, reviewed Phillips’ report and challenged virtually all of her conclusions. His rebuttal was obtained by Mid-Hudson News.
In it, he cites numerous examples of what he said were failures by Tracy to perform her duties correctly and in a timely fashion. He backed up his contentions with reports from independent accounting firms hired by the town.
He said as town supervisor, DanDento has the fiduciary responsibility to oversee the comptroller’s department. Meyer also said as a town board member and deputy supervisor, he must be informed about all aspects of the comptroller’s office and given the fact that he is a CPA, he can provide insight into the town’s financial matters. He said he was not kept in the loop.
In her report, Phillips discussed vulgarities purportedly aimed at Tracy by DanDento including where he yelled at her, “No motherf….r, it is absolutely not your job!”
The investigator also noted another inappropriate comment in the workplace. The first time he used it toward Tracy was around January 20, 2020. “Upon being corrected by Toni T regarding a fund balance number, Frank D commented, ‘I should get a bucket of K-Y jelly because when you f..k me, you f…k me hard’.”
DanDento, meanwhile told Mid-Hudson News that he never made those comments. He called the report “a $60,000 witch hunt.”
But, he also used that language during a conference call about sales tax with an Orange County executive during which Tracy was present. DanDento stated to the executive, “Are you ready? Do you have K-Y? We’re about to get f…..d. ” The comment was confirmed through a recording provided by Tracy to the investigator.
Among Tracy’s other complaints is that DanDento cut her staff to make her workload harder, treated her vacation time different from other town employees, and told her deputy to report directly to him.
The investigator’s conclusions also stated that DanDento “should attend a one-on-one comprehensive employment law sensitivity training pertaining to respect and professionalism in the workplace, use of respectful language, and better understanding of employment law.”
In light of the results of the investigation, Phillips recommended that the town “add the town board members as additional individuals to whom staff can report issues of harassment in the Sexual Harassment Policy; prepare a Non-Harassment Policy to cover all forms of Harassment; conduct a comprehensive update of the existing Sexual Harassment, EEO and all employment law related policies set forth in the Employee Handbook; and schedule mandatory Sexual Harassment/Non-Harassment Prevention Training for all managers which should highlight all forms of unprofessional conduct and all the protected groups beyond the limited Sexual Harassment training currently being provided to the town.”
DanDento maintains the investigation was a subterfuge to cover up the “serious problems” in the finance department. He said four CPA audits have noted the town is doing things incorrectly.
The supervisor also alleged that Councilman Eric Valentin spearheaded the investigation to cover up his action to have his property tax assessment and that of his son, lowered and that he used his town-issued phone for personal use.
Meanwhile, sources said some of the town board members have asked the Orange County District Attorney to look into the matter. DA David Hoovler declined to comment.
Phillips’ report is dated October 7, 2021 and on October 11, DanDento recorded a video on his Facebook page where he defended his actions and alleged certain board members and his opponent, would rather that that the town “look away” from what he said were serious financial issues it faces.
NEWS STORY PROVIDED BY: Mid Hudson News -www.midhudsonnews.com