Austin official resigns in wake of women training scandal

Assistant City Manager Anthony Snipes has resigned following widespread criticism and national media attention over a training session he organized that focused on how to work with the female-majority Austin City Council. The training included comments that were widely perceived to be sexist and stereotypical comments about women.

City Manager Marc Ott confirmed Snipes’ resignation Tuesday in a memo sent to Mayor Steve Adler and the other City Council members. Ott previously put Snipes on paid administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation into the March 27 training session.

Ott said in his memo that after he received a “verbal briefing” from the internal team investigating this incident, he met with Snipes to discuss the circumstances of the training.

“Based on that conversation, Mr. Snipes has tendered his resignation and I have accepted,” Ott wrote in the memo.

Snipes’ last day will be Aug. 10, and Ott said he will use his remaining time with the city to transition his “vital projects, programs and work tasks to applicable staff.”

The full results of the investigative report are still unknown; Ott said he had more questions for the team to answer and he expected a final report to be issued “within the week.”

Much of the initial blame for the training session fell on Snipes because he was the organizer and he told the audience he had heard a version of this training session before.

The American-Statesman revealed May 12, through a post on its City Blog, that the city had quietly held a training session for city staff in March on how to work with a female-majority City Council. The session was filmed and placed on the city’s website. The two Florida-based speakers offered generalizations about working with female leaders, saying that women ask a lot of questions, don’t like financial-based arguments and can be more emotion-driven than men.

(The speakers have released a statement saying they felt their comments were taken “out of context” while also apologizing for any miscommunication.)

The women on the City Council quickly responded with their own press conference denouncing the training as offensive and insulting. There are seven women and three men on the City Council, plus the mayor. It’s the first majority-female City Council in Austin’s history.

Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Council Member Leslie Pool said “the whole thing is unfortunate all the way around” while declining to comment on Snipes’ resignation.

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