Last night at a marathon and occasionally contentious City Council meeting, City Clerk, Lou Krumm was terminated in a 4 to 1 vote. When the matter was announced to be on the City Council agenda about 3 weeks ago, it has become (and likely will continue to be) a contentious issue in our city. Much has been said over the past weeks on social media and last evening at 5:30pm there was an organized rally in front of City Hall with approximately 50 folks there showing their support for Ms. Krumm as she entered the building. As I asked a colleague yesterday – have you ever heard of such a thing as a demonstration to keep a City Clerk? It displays the level of passion folks feel on this issue and our City Council at large, no doubt.
Ms. Krumm began her career in Boulder City as the Deputy Clerk in 2005 and then in 2010 was promoted to City Clerk where she has served every Council administration since. You can see her performance reviews throughout her entire career with the City, HERE.
Mayor McManus personally served Ms. Krumm her notice of potential termination and to have this discussion placed on the agenda for last night to discuss her, “character, alleged misconduct, professional competence or physical or mental health”.
Central to the issues surrounding Ms. Krumm’s termination were events that the Mayor says go back years and indicates a pattern of behavior. Much of it is swirling around several incidents; one regarding where there were some resumes for the open City Attorney in 2017 that should have been made part of a public records request, and also in late 2019 and early 2020 regarding an Open Meeting Law (OML) violation. Specifically, many Council members mention an emergency meeting that was called back in January 2020 where they question the information they received and felt potentially intimidated by the City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk.
Ms. Krumm in her defense says, “she feels like she is in the Twilight Zone.” She points out that she has never received any feedback from any current Council members regarding the points that were brought up that evening, and says, “you have all ambushed me again, tonight.” Ms. Krumm points out that while she may have made a mistake back in 2017, she quickly corrected that OML violation and is her only such error in 15 years of service. All of the issues raised are over a year old, and Ms. Krumm says that in the 20 months that the elected Council has been in place she has only had Councilmembers Bridges, and Folda once, ever come into her office to discuss anything. Ms. Krumm in summary asserts that given the fact that most of the complaints against her are in fact years or at least one year old, then where is the performance review or termination back then? If you see above, she has not had a performance review since 2016. She says that these actions are purely retaliatory for her participation in a workplace harassment and hostile work environment complaint against the Mayor.
It has been widely reported that 10 complaints against the Mayor, claiming a hostile work environment were filed last year by city employees as well as one Council member. Per policy, the City’s Human Resources department took these complaints to PoolPact, which is a liability and insurance organization to help protect organizations such as the City from legal exposure. In other words, the law firm hired was working to protect the City, not its employees. Recently, on February 16th (2021) they informed the Mayor that “the investigator did not find there to be any violations of City policy.” Note, they do not state that the City employee’s claims had no merit, only that no policy was violated. But the Mayor is an elected official.
The bottom line is this: our City Council and City Staff haven’t built a lot of trust over the past year and a half. This is the third key appointed position terminated in the past six months. Much has been said and will likely be said on social media and other outlets in the coming days and weeks ahead. As to the potential of another legal challenge coming out of this, we will all have to wait and see. The fact that the Mayor personally served this notice to Ms. Krumm may indeed create legal exposure to the City, should she decide to pursue that.
Our City has lost what so many believe to be an excellent employee, and her employment reviews reflect that, and her institutional knowledge is astounding. Now the City is very much operating in less-than-ideal circumstances; during an election, a pandemic and the City management team being run by both an Acting City Manager (doing double-duty as the Community Development Director) and an Acting City Attorney – we think the timing on this couldn’t be worse. There are 13 people running currently for the two open City Council seats – that alone reflects that there are many folks who just might not be happy with the way things are going on the current Council.
The trauma and drama of all of this is, frankly, exhausting. Let’s get back to business, if we can.