CEO of Michigan Municipal League accused of harassment by current, former staffers

Staffers say Daniel Gilmartin showed inappropriate, harassing behavior

A controversy is brewing at one of Michigan's largest nonprofit organizations as several women claim their complaints of inappropriate and harassing behavior by the CEO of the Michigan Municipal League have been ignored.

Past and current staffers of the Michigan Municipal League have gone to an attorney to formally alert the board that if changes aren't made, they might have to take legal action.

The group of workers is accusing its boss of inappropriate and harassing behavior, but the board is sticking by the highly paid CEO and trying to move forward from the controversy.

Back in September, hundreds of city and village leaders and their staffers were making their way to Mackinac Island to boat across the Straights of Mackinac or take a horse-drawn carriage to one of the country's most prestigious locales, the Grand Hotel.

Mayors and City Council members spent two days at the Grand Hotel, mingling with township supervisors and salespeople. They were all attending meetings and meet and greet events, looking for ways to make government smoother and friendlier for citizens.

"You know, the Michigan Municipal League is the voice of cities, and it's so valuable because cities in Michigan, small and large, cities of thousands, cities of hundred thousands, cities of 500 thousands, have some things in common," Amanda Edmonds, the mayor of Ypsilanti, said.

The main man at the convention is Daniel Gilmartin, the CEO.

"I'm proud to say we are one of the best municipal leagues in the country," Gilmartin said.

According to nonprofit tax filings, Gilmartin clears between $250,000 and $350,000 per year. At the conference, he was talking up a storm about the benefits of the Michigan Municipal League.

But behind the scenes, a big controversy is brewing. A group of former and current staffers has been meeting with a lawyer, accusing Gilmartin of harassing behavior. Ten days after the conference ended, a letter containing multiple detailed, graphic allegations hit the desks of board members.

The accusations include claims of sending crude emails, making rude comments and engaging in harassing behavior.

The allegations have taxpayers wondering what's going on. Tax dollars help support Michigan Municipal League salaries and events. Ann Arbor citizens spent $262,000 on the Michigan Municipal League last fiscal year, while Sterling Heights spent nearly $50,000 and Flint spent more than $40,000.

"There is still time if you would like to make a donation," Rosalynn Bliss, the mayor of Grand Rapids, said.

Bliss is one of the people receiving the letter. She's the new board chairman and sent Local 4 a written statement, saying in part, "We responded immediately by hiring an outside investigator who is an attorney with an extensive background on theses issues. She interviewed more than 30 people, including current and past employees. Based on her investigation, she concluded that claims of harassment, discrimination and retaliation by Dan were unfounded."

The Michigan Municipal League wouldn't provide Local 4 with a copy of the investigation, and Gilmartin chose not to speak. His accusers stand by their statements. Some of them are now in a tough spot at work as the board said it has full confidence in Gilmartin's leadership.

The board considers this a closed nonissue, but it might not be the end of the controversy. The attorney representing the staffers is still considering options, which include a harassment lawsuit.