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Phoenix Public Information Director Demoted -- Allegedly Made Lewd Jokes

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David J. Ramirez, who was until August 31 the acting public information director for the city of Phoenix, has officially been demoted and given a $19,000 pay cut after complaints from two subordinates.

The complaints focused on religious and sexual harassment. Employees allegedly complained that Ramirez talked about masturbation, made jokes about the Mormon faith, and called a female employee "baby."

Ramirez has been reassigned to Sky Harbor Airport -- which isn't quite Siberia, but still surely comes as a blow.

Ramirez is a former reporter with the Arizona Republic. Until the demotion, he was making $100,351 annually, plus a $280 per month travel allowance. As a public information officer at Sky Harbor, he'll make $81,245 and see the travel allowance cut to nothing.

The allegations came as a shock to many reporters who've worked with Ramirez. He's been with the city 13 years and seemed well-liked by coworkers. In a letter to the city responding to the allegations, Ramirez noted that he has never been subject to any discipline during his time with the city.

"[T]he current complaints had their genesis with two employees in the department that, up until the present events, I would consider personal friends," Ramirez wrote in a letter to city investigators September 29. "I have socialized with both ... outside the workplace and considered them part of my trusted 'inner circle.'"

In the letter, Ramirez acknowledges that he made some of the jokes in question, but denies any misconduct or extreme comments about sexual activities or religion.

The letter also notes that the female employee who complained about Ramirez stayed at his home recently when he and his wife were on vacation. "It is troubling that she was comfortable to stay at my home when she felt that I was harassing her," he wrote. "I had no idea that any of the issues that have surfaced in this investigation were problems to either of these employees...

"It was not until I was placed in the position of temporary acting Director and asked these two employees to comply with office requirements that any complaints were made about me engaging in any type of misconduct."

When reached at his home over the last few weeks, Ramirez has repeatedly declined comment. He declined to speak with New Times again today.


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