Last night the City Council hired our new City Manager, Taylour Tedder, and we’re glad to see that this is taking place and wish him hearty Congratulations on the new post! We look forward to getting to know him in the days ahead.
However, one highly notable item on the agenda for last night was the approval of a settlement offer that will soon be made to both the former City Manager, Al Noyola and the former City Attorney, Steve Morris.
The matter was discussed and approved unanimously in short order, approving settlement amounts that are slightly above the original severance owed to both gentlemen, but not covering their attorney fees or court costs.
Meanwhile, as we can all see HERE on the city’s website, the city has paid $281,362 so far in attorney fees to the city’s legal representatives, Bailey Kennedy. It should also be noted that named separately in the wrongful termination suit filed by both Mr. Noyola and Mr. Morris, are Mayor, Kiernan McManus and Councilwoman, Tracy Folda, and they also have their own personal attorney, Messner Reeves, representing them. So, this is all starting to get pretty expensive, eh?
Here is the tally so far that we taxpayers are on the hook for, below:
We’re told a key item in the legal language behind the offers is that there is to be no admission of wrongdoing by any of the parties involved. It’s just a straightforward legal settlement. For those interested, you can read the full info from the Agenda Packet starting on page 171 from the city’s website HERE.
So why settle? Usually, we see that happen in the world for one of two reasons. Often you see a legal argument that reaches a settling point because one side decides their case isn’t as strong as they thought it would be, in this instance, that would be the Council’s decision to deny the severance owed to these two employees saying they fired them for sufficient cause to warrant its denial. Or, settlements are made to simply ‘cut your losses’ so to speak and move on to other business, saving additional time or grief or stomach acid. Both decisions are valid if both parties agree. But one does wonder why there is the offer of a settlement when to date so far, the city has won all of its judgments against the plaintiffs. So, if you’re winning, (or it appears that way on the surface), why then make an offer now?
Unless POOL/PACT, the city’s insurance company steps in to help, we the taxpayers continue to be responsible for what we can see so far is much more money than would have been paid had these two gentlemen simply received their severance. In fact, we wouldn’t even be writing this article! And sadly, this is hardly the only instance in just the past decade where decisions by city leadership have caused us the taxpayers a loss of money (we’ll refrain from the laundry list here right now….). But one of the things we’re not aware of our city being sued for in the past is this scenario. Let’s look at just the City Manager’s job, for example.
Recent City Managers in Boulder City:
- John Sullard 1997 – 2/2004
- Vicki Mayes – 8/2004 – 12/2012
- Dave Fraser 11/2012- 6/2017
- Interim – Scott Hansen 6/2017 – 2/2018
- Al Noyola 2/2018 – 10/2020
- Interim – Michael Mays 10/2020 – present
As we can see, the turnover on that key spot has been quite high as of late. But even when other City Managers have been dismissed, and they have been, the City has so far not been sued by any of them. Note, the City Manager position in Boulder City, as well as in a great many municipalities, is often quite a political one – as new elected officials take their seat, this is the kind of role that often changes with who’s up on that dais. So out of that comes these ‘parachute’ style contracts with larger severance packages than most of us might see in our own employment contracts. You or I or any of the citizens of Boulder City may not like these facts, but the truth is that whatever we think of this or these employees or the parties involved, the prior City Council agreed to these employment contracts, and so the City is responsible for their good-faith actions to fulfill them.
Next steps are that now our City Attorney and Bailey Kennedy has the go-ahead to begin the negotiation process with both plaintiffs for these various offers. The fees of Bailey Kennedy will continue to mount, and it is completely unknown as of now if either Mr. Noyola or Mr. Morris will be inclined to accept either offer. We’ll all have to watch and wait.