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Risk fund to pay legal expenses

The city will not have to allocate money from the general fund to pay for its legal representation in a Nevada District Court case involving two of its staff members, according to the head of the finance department.

“Legal expenditures are eligible for payment from the risk management fund,” said Diane Pelletier, finance director, at the Sept. 8 City Council meeting.

Mayor Kiernan McManus had requested a resolution be discussed at the meeting. It would allocate $50,000 from the general fund to pay for legal representation from the Bailey Kennedy law firm in the case involving City Attorney Steve Morris and City Manager Al Noyola.

“Are there any other known expenses … at this time?” McManus asked about the risk management fund.

“There are other expenses paid out of this account, but there is enough money in there to handle, hopefully, these legal expenses,” Pelletier said.

She also said the fund contained approximately $1.3 million and more money would be added in next year’s budget.

No action was required on the mayor’s requested resolution because the money did not need to be allocated.

Amended agreement

At Tuesday’s meeting, council also approved an amended agreement with Bailey Kennedy for its representation in that case. The original one provided representation for all “City Council members.”

“I had requested this item … be presented because of discussions that occurred after the original retention agreement was presented that Council member (Claudia) Bridges was unable to sign … or felt there was a need to abstain,” McManus said. “Again that’s not at issue here. I’m not interested in bringing forward any of the reasons for it. That’s just why we’re having to consider this amended agreement here this evening.”

According to court documents, Bridges is one of several staff members who filed a complaint against McManus for alleged bullying and harassment. She was also one of five staff members who provided a declaration for Morris and Noyola.

The new agreement includes representation for the city and council members James Howard Adams, Judy Hoskins and Tracy Folda in their official capacities.

“I believe that the amendment that has been done to this does not significantly alter the terms that were already presented earlier,” McManus said.

Bridges abstained voting on the amended agreement.

Contract questions

At the beginning of the meeting, McManus verbally sparred with Morris about whether he would be providing information or answers to questions about the contract with Bailey Kennedy.

Morris called the mayor’s question an effort “to create some type of alleged misconduct” and said this was the first time he was hearing this request.

“We would have been happy to give that out if it had been the desire of any member of council, but it was not ever conveyed to the city attorney’s office,” Morris said.

“I want to make something very clear to you, sir,” said McManus. “I’m not springing anything on you. I do not believe it’s improper to rely on the city attorney to have reviewed the agenda and know whether there are any items on the agenda that may present a conflict to you.”

Morris said he was not obligated to review agenda items with which he had a conflict. He also said any concerns about the item should have been given to Bailey Kennedy as they are the city’s counsel in the matter.

McManus asked if he would be providing another attorney who could provide that information.

“This is the first time, Mr. Mayor, that this question has been raised,” Morris said. “It could have been raised in briefings but was not done so by any member of council, and so to drop this on the city attorney’s office at this point of time is highly improper.”

Festival funds

Council unanimously approved a $5,000 special event promotion grant for the 2021 Dam Short Film Festival.

Tsvetelina Stefanova, executive director of the festival, said she was confident the festival would occur despite not yet knowing how COVID-19 restrictions would affect it.

“If COVID-19 prevents us from meeting, we are researching ways to hold it outside or virtually,” she said.

She also said more than 800 films had been submitted from 35 countries and the festival was on track to beat the previous year’s submission numbers.

Councilman Adams recused himself from voting on the grant as he is married to the festival’s executive director.

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

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