After deliberating for more than two hours behind closed doors Thursday night, the Rapid City council took no action against an alderman who was the subject of a City Attorney's Office investigation.
About halfway through the session, Ward 1 Alderman Bill Clayton — the subject of the investigation — emerged with attorney Patrick Duffy.
An hour later, the council reconvened in public and unanimously voted to do nothing further.
"We followed our due process, and no further action is required," Ward 4 Alderman John Roberts said.
The council gave Clayton the chance to have the hearing in public rather than executive session. At the beginning of Thursday's meeting, the council allowed 60 seconds of silence during which the as-yet-unnamed alderman could have spoken up and requested a public hearing.
Clayton did not speak, and the council proceeded into executive session.
The investigation was prompted by at least two complaints filed against Clayton. One was filed by COMPASS internal auditing committee chairman Pete Wernicke, alleging Clayton had verbally assaulted Ward 1 Alderwoman Charity Doyle.
Doyle was not present at Thursday's meeting.
The details of the other complaint are unknown, as is whether Clayton or anyone else will choose to make them public. But nothing bars Clayton from doing so despite not speaking up at the beginning of the meeting.
"The person that is the subject of the complaint can choose at any time to bring it forward," City Attorney Joel Landeen clarified at the beginning of the meeting.
Any action — such as public reprimand or censure — by the council would have required a two-thirds vote, or seven aldermen. Last week, Ward 2 Alderman Steve Laurenti attempted to group himself, Clayton, Roberts and Ward 5 Alderman Ron Sasso as co-defendants in any investigation or censure.
That attempt failed, but had those four aldermen voted against any censure or public reprimand, it would have died.
Mayor Sam Kooiker has vehemently opposed the council going into executive session to hear the investigation report, despite the fact the council's modified code of conduct — passed in September — calls for the council to hear the report in executive session.
Instead, he said the whole incident should be out in the open. Kooiker did not sit in on the executive session.
This week, council president Bonny Petersen chastised Kooiker for asking the council to, she said, violate due process. Unless the alderman being investigated asks for a public hearing, the code of conduct gives him the right to have the investigation heard in private.
Petersen said the council could open itself up to a lawsuit if it forced the investigation to be heard in the open against the wishes of the alderman being investigated.
"I was totally shocked to find that Mayor Kooiker demanded that the council put the city at risk," she said.
Kooiker said the he did not envision the code of conduct being used for this sort of action and executive session.