SeaTac's former interim manager James “Donny” Payne sought to map Muslims and create an “Americanization” program, an investigator found. Read the full report.
Not long after a newly elected majority of the SeaTac City Council fired the city’s manager this year and replaced him with interim manager James “Donny” Payne, SeaTac’s human resources director formally complained that Payne had harassed, intimidated and discriminated against her while creating a hostile work environment at SeaTac City Hall.
An outside employment lawyer hired to investigate determined the employee’s complaint was “well founded” and that Payne’s troubling conduct went beyond his interactions with just one employee.
Among other findings, the investigator determined Payne:
- Sought to create a city map detailing where SeaTac’s Muslim residents lived, apparently due to his concerns about terrorism.
- Raised the idea of creating an “Americanization” program for immigrants coming to the city.
- Asked the SeaTac police chief whether she’d support reversing a policy banning city employees from bringing firearms to work.
Payne, 47, an Army major in the Washington National Guard with no previous city management experience, disputes the investigator’s findings, contending they mischaracterize his intentions to better understand and serve SeaTac’s diverse population. Payne said he resigned on April 6 — before the investigation’s findings became public — because he’d lost support of some council members and recognized his ability to lead had been compromised.
Here’s the investigator’s report: