An internal investigation by the city of SeaTac found that former interim City Manager James “Donny” Payne sought to create a “tactical map” of where Muslims in the city lived.
The investigation, by attorney Michael Griffin, was launched after the city’s human resources manager Vanessa Audette, who is part Japanese, filed a discrimination complaint about Payne, alleging he made remarks about Asians that she found offensive.
The SeaTac Blog, which first reported on the investigation, said Payne resigned on March 18, the day that the human resources manager made her complaint and less than three months into his job.
The SeaTac Blog posted the entire report in early May, in which another employee told the investigator said that Payne had asked about whether U.S. Census data would have specific information about about where Sunni and Shiite Muslims lived in case he needed to go into neighborhoods to “make the peace.” Staff members told the investigator that he was interested in knowing “with a great deal of specificity (to the neighborhood, house, and even person)” where the city’s Muslim residents lived.
Payne was told that religious information was not available through the U.S. Census, and the map was never made.
Other city staff members told the investigator that they were “alarmed” by Payne’s inquiries about starting an “assimilation” program for new immigrants, and his concerns about the city’s Somali and Eritrean communities, the #BlackLivesMatter protests in Ferguson and “radicalized” Muslims.
Payne told the SeaTac Blog that the report mischaracterized his actions and that the mapping was to “to ensure everyone in the city was best provided essential services. Nothing else.”
Payne told The Seattle Times last week that his words and actions were taken out of context and that he valued the diversity of SeaTac.