Wednesday, January 11, 2012

City Administrator seeks reinstatement to active-duty status

Hearing set for today in Fifth District Court


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley's legal counsel is remaining silent on whether the city is considering or has even received an offer by City Administrator Sharon Hammer to drop it from a lawsuit in exchange for a one-year extension of her employment contract.

Meanwhile, Hammer has filed a second emergency motion for a temporary restraining order placing her back on active-duty status with the city. That hearing has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m., today, Jan. 11.

Mayor Dewayne Briscoe placed her back on paid, administrative leave a day after he took office last week. Former Mayor Wayne Willich had placed her on paid leave in November but called her back to active duty in late December.

Hammer contends that Willich issued a "final and binding" closing of a special investigation of her without any disciplinary charges being made against her, according to the motion. She is asking the court to find that Willich's closing of the case is final and binding and wants the city to be prohibited from making further allegations against her related to that investigation.

Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, the city's insurance carrier, appointed Boise-based attorney Kirtlan Naylor to represent the city in the lawsuit.

Hammer offered in late December to dismiss the city and Councilman Bob Youngman from the suit, which alleges misconduct by Councilman Nils Ribi and City Attorney Adam King. The suit against Ribi and King would remain active.

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Naylor did not provide a comment by press time Tuesday on whether the city was considering that proposal.

Hammer filed the lawsuit in November, alleging that Ribi repeatedly mistreated and harassed her. To retaliate, she contends, Ribi initiated an effort to get her terminated from her job, with the assistance of other city staffers.

Meanwhile, Donoval has responded to a lawsuit filed against him in a separate but related matter.

On Dec. 30, Ribi and his wife, Patricia Brolin-Ribi, filed a suit against Donoval, seeking monetary damages for allegedly defamatory statements about Nils Ribi sent to various people, including the mayor and City Council members. The suit contends that Donoval's statements caused Patricia Brolin-Ribi emotional distress.

In a statement given to the Idaho Mountain Express, Donoval countered that it is Ribi who has to prove that any statements Donoval made were done with malice and not with a legitimate purpose in mind.

"[I]t will be Council Member Ribi's duty to prove that the statements I may have made were false and that I knew they were false at the time, and that I published them to anyone other than the Sun Valley City Council," he wrote. "Eventually, Council Member Ribi will have to face a jury as to whether he harassed Ms. Hammer and caused a hostile work environment over the course of the last two to three years."

Donoval called the case "nonsense," adding, "But, I guess this is evidence that anyone can sue anyone if they want."

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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