City Personnel Matters and Possible Breach of Ethics

The following includes my exact words spoken during the City Council meeting Tuesday night (4/5/16). Please note that absolutely no names were stated or implied.

“On Friday, March 25th, our local newspaper published an article related to a city personnel matter. I was told by the reporter, the evening before, that he had been given the name and circumstances of the city employee AND could not name the person divulging that information.

“By naming our Salida city employee, whose position was in transition, the informer certainly provided the fuel for public embarrassment and humiliation throughout our community. Confidentiality and the right to privacy are always required whenever personnel matters are involved. Who ever divulged the name and details, in my estimation, has failed in the the ethics category and certainly has not observed appropriate standards of personal conduct.

“My biggest fear, however, is that one of us, a Salida City Council member, may have disclosed that confidential information to the reporter. As council members, we have been strongly advised to personally maintain the highest of ethical standards and I quote, “Don’t insert yourself into (or be pulled into) personnel matters.” and “Don’t disclose or use any confidential information.”

“Therefore, I feel obligated to request that the City Attorney be directed to determine the Colorado statutes that govern elected officials in naming names of employees whose status is changing. I also request that the attorney state the possible ramifications of any breech of confidentiality and any sanctions the City Council could bring to bear on an elected official that violates employee confidentiality statutes.

“At minimum. I believe that IF such action EVER takes place, by ANY elected official, that person deserves some kind of notice that it is inappropriate and such behavior will be not be tolerated in the future.”

Nobody deserves to be publicly humiliated. To pretend this breach of confidentiality did not occur is unconscionable, whether the guilty party is a citizen or an elected official. If I had access to the identity of the culprit I would have gone directly to the Mayor and our city attorney, certainly not to our local newspaper.

Since personnel matters related to Salida’s city employees are private and never available for public consumption, and elected officials have access to that information, there is a possibility that a council member, directly or indirectly, divulged that information. If so, appropriate steps must be taken to insure that such action is not repeated. My request for legal council is appropriate and does not deserve any threat of retaliation. In the spirit of transparency, I made that request, publicly, during Tuesday’s session.

Eileen Rogers City Council Member, Ward II

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