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Council to review charges against Jennings

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The City Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee could meet this week to review the results of an independent probe aimed at investigating claims of sexual harassment and discrimination against Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica), one councilman said.

A report studying allegations brought by two former female aides was compiled by Washington-based ADR Associates, an outside firm, and mailed to committee members’ homes this weekend, said committee members’ staffers.

The probe, which is confidential, found that Jennings created a “hostile work environment” for the two aides and that he wrongfully fired them as a form of retaliation, according to Newsday.

Jennings has denied the claims, and his chief of staff said they had not heard anything on the report by Monday evening. Calls placed Tuesday were not returned.

The Standards and Ethics Committee was likely to meet this week to discuss the report and possible disciplinary actions, said Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who is the head of the Queens delegation.

Disciplinary actions could include censure or fines, he said. Any such move would have to be voted on by the entire Council.

According to the allegations, which first surfaced at a December meeting of the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee, Jennings forced female staffers to clean his house on mornings that they picked him up, a committee member said earlier this year.

The women, who no longer work for Jennings, also said they were made to sit in the front of the office and watch a continuous videotape of his television appearances, while male staffers were given desks away from the display, the committee member said.

The complaint also said the Jamaica councilman made sexual jokes and gave one woman a Caribbean doll with a giant phallus after returning from a trip there, the committee member said. One woman said she was fired after she rejected romantic overtures from Jennings, he said.

A city Department of Investigation probe into the claims was still pending, a spokeswoman said.

Jennings has a track record of clashing with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan), most notably when he voted against the negotiated 18.5 percent property tax increase in 2002. After the vote, Bloomberg’s office withheld Jennings’ parking permit and the Council voted in February to remove him from the Finance Committee.

Jennings also lost his seat as chairman of the Civil Service and Labor Committee in January, when the Council voted him out of the post, saying he was an ineffectual leader. He angered critics when he released personal information on undercover police officers at one of the meetings he chaired.

Early last year Jennings took out half-page ads in Chinese-language newspapers proclaiming his appreciation for the Chinese community and highlighting his personal relationships.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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