City employees resign over racist remarks caught on tape
WARNER, Okla. (KTUL) —
Two town employees in Warner have resigned following an audio recording of them making racist comments at city hall.
The people we talked to in Warner say, sadly, they weren’t surprised to hear the audio between Joe Swimmer and Matt McClean and civic leaders are saying they hope it doesn’t mean people in Warner are fostering a culture of hate.
The room was near capacity.
Anxious people waiting for a verdict as council members lingered in executive session for only 17 minutes.
“The two employees involved have submitted their resignations,” one member read from a prepared statement. “I make a motion to appoint our town administrator, Johnny Lewis to investigate the allegations. The town council does not condone such behavior and it will be thoroughly investigated.”
“It’s pretty good,” says Michael Wittmer. “But we’ve got a lot further to go.”
Wittmer is the city employee who caught Swimmer and McClean on tape.
“It’s been going on a long time,” he says. “Ever since Joe’s been here.”
He says when he tried to go to work this morning, he was locked out.
“The employees that work with me haven’t been too happy with me,” Wittmer says. “They feel like they were misled, but they weren’t misled. They just shouldn’t have been saying what they were saying.”
“They’re calling for an investigation,” says Reverend Rodger Cutler. “Well, you have a video that lays out what was said. “
Reverend Cutler with the NAACP in Muskogee says there’s still work to do to find equal footing.
“If they’re going to investigate something,” he says. “They need to is these persons who have made these statements. Did their job affect any black persons in this town? “
“It’s very disappointing because it never should have went this far,” Wittmer says. “They should have taken care of the problems, to begin with, upper management.”
We did speak with a representative from the town of Warner. He says this could spur the town to train its employees. When asked if not using racist terms in the workplace should be common sense? He merely responded ‘Should be’.
We requested copies of the resignation letters from Joe Swimmer and Matt McClean. We were told they aren’t available at this time.