Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sun Valley tort claim settled

Former city clerk alleged hostile work environment and retaliation


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

A tort claim filed against the city of Sun Valley by a former city clerk has been settled by the city's insurance carrier for $72,000.

Kelly Ek, through Boise attorney William Tharp, sent the notice of tort claim to the city in April, naming former City Administrator Sharon Hammer, former Mayor Wayne Willich and current council members Bob Youngman, Michelle Griffith and Franz Suhadolnik, alleging that they created a hostile work environment.

Sun Valley's liability insurance carrier, Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, will pay Ek $65,000 plus $7,000 for attorney's fees to resolve the matter, according to a news release issued by the city Monday. That ends all claims relating to Ek's tort claim notice.

"This is another step in resolving the difficult issues, which were brought to City Council and me just after the November 5th election," Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe said in the release. "It is my responsibility with City Council to guarantee to our citizens that all city officials and employees consistently meet the highest standard of integrity and comply with federal and Idaho state laws. We will continue in this endeavor as ongoing issues are resolved in the months ahead."

The mayor and City Council were not parties to the negotiation and had no role in the settlement, according to the release.

Ek, who had been on medical leave without pay since March 26, resigned as of June 8.

<

Investigations ongoing

Briscoe said Deputy City Clerk Julia Kinsey-Lovey is filling the city clerk role until a citywide reorganization is finished and external investigations are completed.

"We've been grooming Julia. She's able to handle the duties," he told the Idaho Mountain Express.

Briscoe said he will submit a candidate for the permanent city clerk position to the City Council for approval in the coming weeks.

"I will be making that appointment after the end of both the forensic audit and attorney general's investigation," he said. "I had hoped for the audit to be completed within two weeks. However, they called me to state they have uncovered various documents and records and that they will probably take another two weeks [to review them]."

He said those documents pertain primarily to the Fire Department.

Auditors also gathered additional information from more people who came forward, Briscoe said.

"That's why the conclusion was prolonged," he said. "There were new documents and new data from whistleblowers."

That sent the auditors back to review more documents in the archives.

Sun Valley contracted with the Seattle office of Hagen, Streiff, Newton & Oshiro, a forensic accounting firm, to help the city investigate accounting practices and financial transactions over the past several years.

Additionally, an internal investigation conducted late last year prompted the city to seek an investigation by the Blaine County Prosecutor's Office, with assistance from the Idaho Attorney General's Office. The exact nature of these investigations has not been publicly stated.

Briscoe said the resolution of Ek's claim signifies progress in getting the city's internal affairs in order.

"This is another step in resolving the issues before the city that hopefully will be concluded this summer," he said.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2014 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.