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Investigation: No city policies violated; possibility remains for other complaints

A recent investigation into Mayor Kiernan McManus’ and Councilwoman Tracy Folda’s alleged actions against staff members has found no violations of city policies even though neither of them are required to follow those rules.

The investigation also did not show whether any state or federal laws were violated.

In a complaint filed in August 2020 in Nevada’s Eighth District Court, then City Manager Al Noyola and then City Attorney Steve Morris said McManus had been accused by various city employees of “religious discrimination, harassment, bullying and creating a hostile work environment.”

Noyola wrote the city received 10 different complaints against McManus.

“The investigation into concerns about you made by various City employees has been completed,” wrote Rebecca Bruch, the attorney who led the investigation, in a Feb. 16 letter to McManus. “While I am not permitted to discuss confidential personnel matters with you, I will tell you that the investigator did not find there to be any violations of any City policy.”

When asked by the Boulder City Review, Bruch said the details of the situation could not be discussed because it was a “confidential attorney work-product.”

Additionally, Boulder City Communications Manager Lisa LaPlante said the nature of personnel complaints is confidential.

“It is certainly welcome information that no basis for the allegations was found in regard to city policies,” said McManus. “I have been confident that my interactions with city employees have always been on a professional basis. I treat others with respect regardless of whether there may be disagreements about issues. I understand there are employees of the city that oppose the changes in policies that I have worked toward. I do not believe personal attacks on me are productive in discussing these issues.”

Even though no city policies were violated, the council members and mayor do not have to follow them or civil service rules, according to the city.

“Elected officials are not required to comply with city policies, and civil service rules do not apply to elected officials,” said LaPlante. “The investigation has concluded with a finding that the alleged conduct did not violate any city policy. If there are future complaints, the nature of those complaints will be investigated.”

In letters sent to some of the employees who made the complaints, Bruch provided instructions on how to share their concerns if they felt any state law had been violated. She also told them their complaints were confidential and they were protected from retaliation.

“While I am not permitted to discuss confidential personnel matters with you, I will tell you that the investigator did not find there to be any violations of any City policy,” she wrote to them. “If you believe there has been a violation of any Nevada statute, for instance related to Nevada Open Meeting Law or the Nevada Ethics Commission, you may bring those concerns to the attention of the appropriate agencies. … You are protected against retaliation.”

She also told McManus he had that same protection and he could not act out against anyone who made a complaint against him.

“You are protected against retaliation. … Likewise, you are prohibited from engaging in retaliation against anyone who may have filed a complaint or cooperated in the investigation,” she wrote to McManus.

McManus said he was not “told of who the person or persons were that submitted allegations or of what the allegations were.”

“The information I have received throughout the process was never detailed as the basis for conducting an investigation or the process itself,” he said. “I was told that a report was completed but I have not been provided a copy of it.”

In court documents, however, Morris and Noyola said they had experienced discrimination by McManus and Folda and had filed complaints into alleged “retaliatory” actions with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission. Additionally, Councilwoman Claudia Bridges said she had filed an internal complaint against McManus.

Former City Clerk Lorene Krumm also said she is a part of the hostile workplace investigation, but she did not single out McManus.

LaPlante said the city asked POOL/PACT last year to help them address internal employment complaints.

“POOL/PACT retained outside counsel to investigate internal personnel complaints in July of 2020 to ensure an impartial evaluation of the complaints was conducted against city policies, and to assess what internal corrective action needed to be taken, if any,” she said.

Folda did not respond to the Boulder City Review’s request for a comment.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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