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Did Officials Conspire To “Trump Up” The Sexual Harassment Charges To Oust Brannum?

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SEMO.net has compiled this general timeline from Sunshine documents received, DAR reports and personal conversations:

Monday, April 15 – City Clerk Kearbey improperly, and possibly illegally, conducted the Mayoral election. Read earlier post.

Monday, April 16 – Brannum tells City Manager Bagby he intends to make a motion at the May 6 meeting to fire Kearbey for her improper actions during the mayoral election.

Monday, April 22 – Attorney Danny Moore mails a letter addressed to Brannum saying his client, a City employee, is “very concerned about his actions and demeanor toward her.”

Tuesday, April 23 @ 8:50 am - Don Schrieber, Editor in Chief of the Daily American Republic, goes to City Hall and makes a Sunshine Request for “Any files relating to either term Johnny Brannum served on the P.B. City Council.”

  • City Clerk waives research and copying fees for DAR.
    • – I was charged for these documents
  • City Clerk waives typical 3-day waiting period for requests to DAR.
    • – I received these documents after three day wait
  • Schrieber was handed photocopies of the documents immediately. Documents were 1) an undated, former employee submitted,  handwritten letter from “Johnny”; 2)
  • front of a business card of Councilman Brannum; 3)
  • back of a business card with handwritten message.

Tuesday, April 23 afternoon – Brannum received his copy of the Attorney Moore letter

Wednesday, April 24 @ 9:00 AM - City Council is notified of a special closed meeting to be held on April 26 at noon.

Friday, April 26 @ noon - An emergency Closed Meeting of the City Council was held. The City Clerk did not attend a large portion of this meeting. It is my opinion that these sexual harassment charges were discussed in this meeting.

Monday, April 29 @ 9:20 AM- Don Schrieber made, essentially, the same sunshine request as six days prior “All Records Pertaining to Councilman John Brannum.” Schrieber was given two pages. Schrieber did not pay for these records (again, I was charged for these records) and received them immediately (I had to wait three business days for my copies):

  1. letter from Attorney Moore to Brannum
  2. a typed letter describing incidents between a current employee of City Hall and Brannum

It is my opinion that both of these documents were closed records under the Sunshine law. City Ordinance prohibits public disclosure of closed records and disclosure is an offense under the City Code. The offender is subject to termination.

Tuesday, April 30 @ 12:45 PM – Brannum emails Bagby and resigns from City Council.

Tuesday, April 30 @ 2:00 PM – City sends out agenda for Special Meeting on May 1

Tuesday, April 30 @ 7:00 PM – Brannum email Bagby and Mayor DeGaris and recants his resignation

Wednesday, May 1 @ 11:00 AM – DAR has front page expose’ regarding sexual allegations against Brannum, Brannum’s resignation and recantation emails printed in full.

Wednesday, May 1 @ 4:30 – At the Special Meeting of City Council it becomes public information that City Clerk Pam Kearbey was the “current” employee who complained about Brannum.

Friday, May 3 – City posts Agenda for next Council Meeting and includes “E. City Council will review a contract for the City Clerk”

Sunday, May 5 – Schrieber writes DAR editorial and states Brannum is an embarrassment and should resign and calls me a “Disgruntled Malcontent Misfit.”

Monday, May 6 – I made a Sunshine Request for:

  • Copy of ALL  “Sunshine Requests” made by the Daily American Republic During April or May of 2013
  • Copy of Police Reports and/or Employee Complaint Filed against Brannum

Thursday, May 9 - City Clerk stated once in person and twice by email that There are no police reports.

Tuesday, May 14 – City Clerk Kearbey writes, “there is NO police report filed on any of the complaints.”

Wednesday, May 15 – I requested by Sunshine Request a copy of the City’s protocol and procedures for Employee complaints of Sexual Harassment.

So here are my questions:

  1. How did the “Letter from Attorney Moore” and “Personal Statement/Complaint of City Clerk Kearbey” become public record since there was no police report and no employee complaint?

    1. It can only be given by the Clerk to the DAR if it is a public record
    2. There is no police report so it didn’t become a public record that way
    3. I believe those records are “closed session records.” I asked Pearson if she had seen either of the two documents and was told she could not discuss anything from a closed session.
  2. What happens if the City did provide Closed Meeting documents to the Daily American Republic?

    1. Our own PB Ordinance 7321 states that any employee of the City who discloses any closed record shall “be guilty of an offense under the ordinances of the City” and upon eviction therefore may be punished as provided by law and “subject to termination.”
    2. Our City Clerk is the Custodian of Records and has apparently violated this ordinance.
  3. Who tipped off Don Schrieber to go make those requests and what was their motive?

    1. Schrieber was at City Hall asking for documents nearly 10 hours before Brannum got the letter from Attorney Moore.
    2. Schrieber went back after six days and requested the same documents. How did he know there was something new in Brannum’s file?
  4. How did the DAR get a copy of the resignation email submitted to the City Manager?

    1. The DAR did not make a sunshine request for that information.
    2. The resignation letter was emailed from Brannum to Bagby. That email, I believe, was also transmitted to all the council members.
    3. Leaking emails of this nature to the press, in my opinion, is unethical
    4. I have made Sunshine Request for any emails sent from City employees to the DAR – I will report the findings.
  5. How can there be a “sexual harassment” issue when no Police Report or Employee complaint has been filed?

  6. How can the DAR report 9 separate times that the Police were involved in an investigation when no police report was ever filed?

    1. DAR stated “this letter was held by the Poplar Bluff Police Department…”
    2. DAR stated “a current city employee provided a complaint to the police”
    3. DAR stated “names of the victims have been withheld by the police”
    4. DAR stated “the police case file, which has been closed, also states….”
    5. If they have any respect for their community and the ideal of Journalism, THE Daily American Republic should print a front page retraction!
  7. Why now? After twelve years of employment, why is it now necessary to provide a contract to the City Clerk?

    1. The contract provides: “termination shall be effective upon twelve (12) months written notice”
    2. The contract actually states that if the City Clerk is ever fired she sticks around for a full year at full pay. LUNACY!
    3. Annual salary is $56,656 plus benefits and proportional raises

It is my opinion that there is enough reasonable concern of foul play for our community to request that the Attorney General’s office commission an investigation of how all of these events transpired.

Proudly written by a Disgruntled Malcontent Misfit!

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Written by Brian Becker

After graduating from Mizzou with Computer and Electrical Engineering degrees in 1985, Brian Becker spent a decade singing Christian Rock and being a labeled artist with Benson Music Group of Nashville. In 1995, he and several investors started the area's first Internet Service called PBMO.net and by 2000 the company was serviing Internet access in over 50 communities throughout Southeast Missouri as SEMO.net. In July 2014, Becker again made a major pivot and became Publisher of the SEMO TIMES: a weekly print and daily online news and entertainment source for the region.

  • Tim

    After watching the recording of the Council meeting, I’m amazed how the chairman does not control the meeting, the council members and staff employees blurt out anything they feel like, the constant cross-talk, and no one seems to actually have the floor.