By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
It was revealed last week that former Communications and Marketing Director Joni Kirk filed a damage claim against the City of Mill Creek for her August 2nd termination.
The Everett Herald’s Noah Haglund reported the city released a copy of Kirk’s $500,000 damage claim on Friday, September 13, 2019, as a result of an August 6th public records request.
The city has not yet responded to a similar public records request submitted by News of Mill Creek.
Haglund reported that Kirk contends she was fired because of her role as one of the whistleblowers who informed the city council of former City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto’s behavior, resulting in Polizzotto's firing last year.
He also reported the August 6th claim states, “Through counsel Ms. Kirk is willing to engage in discussions with the City attempting to resolve this matter short of litigation. Should a resolution not be reached it is Ms. Kirk’s intention at this time to move forward with litigation after the required 60-day period of time.”
The City of Mill Creek has liability insurance provided by Risk Management Service Agency. According to Haglund’s article the agency denied Kirk’s claim after an evaluation.
An August 5th statement from the City of Mill Creek explained Kirk showed “poor judgement” in recording the termination of Gordon Brink without his knowledge in March of this year.
The statement went on to say, “The City does not have trust and confidence that she could satisfactorily perform her duties as Director of Communications and Marketing and represent the City’s best interests in a leadership role.”
Washington State law requires that anyone recording a private conversation between two or more people get prior consent from everyone being recorded.
After the state’s Public Employee Relations Commission filed a complaint on Brink’s behalf this summer, the city began a workplace investigation and put Kirk on paid administrative leave.
At the beginning of July the city reinstated Brink and fired Kirk as a result of the investigation.
Interestingly, Brink is now performing many of the duties Kirk once did for the city. He now has the title Interim Communications and Marketing Director.
Brink declined to comment on this situation.
In an email Kirk said that she was not available for comments and referred all questions to her lawyer.