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City must move forward in unity

What Boulder City needs right now is a giant bandage.

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting put some finality to the saga of council members wanting to terminate the employment contracts for City Attorney Steve Morris and City Manager Al Noyola.

Terminating the two city officials was the right thing to do. After weeks of trying to accomplish these tasks, it became painfully obvious that there was no way the staff and council members could work together. The relationship between them had been deteriorating for months prior to this and several council members lost trust in the men’s ability to advise them and the city. Changes were necessary.

Regardless of how you feel about the now-former city attorney and city manager, the past few months of efforts to have them removed from their positions and the lawsuit that was filed have left a rift in the community that needs fixing. Hurtful words were hurled about and childish actions were taken.

There are still loose ends to tie up as the lawsuit Morris and Noyola filed against the city winds its way through the court system. And the battle is likely not over. I suspect others will follow after allegations of religious discrimination, harassment, bullying and creating a hostile work environment were made against the mayor, as well as the violation of the “safe harbor” period in Morris’ and Noyola’s contacts that prevented them from being fired six months before or after an election.

Upon his exit, Morris implied that additional court actions will be taken as he mentioned what he considered were violations of the open meeting law, breaches of his contract and the retaliatory nature of the termination.

There is also some question about whether or not Morris and Noyola will receive their severance packages. According to a legal expert we consulted, the contracts are “poorly written” and language is vague, as they could be terminated for cause or no cause and still receive severance pay. The stipulation that they would not receive the pay is if they voluntarily resigned, were convicted of a gross misdemeanor or felony, or if they violated a “material term” of the agreement, which is open to interpretation.

The official word from City Hall is that the decisions from Tuesday’s meeting and the contracts are being reviewed by a labor attorney to make that determination.

So, as best as we can, it’s time to move forward. For the benefit of the city, warring factions need to mend some fences and work toward a common goal.

There’s no need for infighting when the community as a whole, along with the rest of the county, state and nation, is battling a pandemic.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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