Cooper fires HR Director Debi Humann, citing ‘lack of confidence’ in her abilities

Mayor Mike Cooper on Thursday confirmed that he fired Human Resources Director Debi Humann, stating that “I no longer had confidence in her ability to do the job and to work effectively with me.”

Rumors started appearing on Facebook Thursday morning that Humann had been fired. When asked for comment, Cooper issued the following statement via email to My Edmonds News:

“Debi Humann is longer employed by the City. This is not a decision that came lightly but a change was needed.

“The city’s ability to function relies on a relationship between the Mayor and staff that is based on the highest level of trust and confidentiality. That level of trust has deteriorated to a place where I no longer had confidence in her ability to do the job and to work effectively with me. In order to have the public  trust the city needs a committed staff that maintains that highest level of trust with the mayor and council.”

Humann has worked for the City of Edmonds since 1999, when she was hired as a receptionist in the Human Resources Department. Since that time, she has served as a human resources assistant, analyst, manager and director.

Cooper, who was appointed by the Edmonds City Council following long-time Mayor Gary Haakenson’s resignation in June 2010, is facing a tough election battle against former Edmonds City Council President Dave Earling.

  1. I am surprised to see at this late hour that I am the first to post a comment on this story. It has been a very trying day for staff here at the City of Edmonds. I don’t pretend to know enough to comment intelligently on all of the underlying issues surrounding this story. I am sure the coming days and weeks will provide additional information and perspective. What I would like to say, and I am honored to be the first one to say it here, is that it has been a singular pleasure getting to know and work with Debi Human during my short tenure here. She is a knowledgeable, hard-working, and passionate HR professional. She has a reputation for fairness, a mind for details, and a strong commitment to the citizens of Edmonds. I am proud to call her my friend. I have never seen her act in her own self interest. There are not that many people I would say that about, including myself.

  2. Debi Humann made her mark as an essentially fearless defender of the employees of the City of Edmonds, and at the same time, managed to balance that with with the needs of the City as a whole. Although there were occasions that I disagreed with her viewpoints as an employee per se, at no point was there ever a doubt regarding her sincerity, and that deserved respect. It’s a delicate act to balance, that, and she balanced it well.

  3. Thanks Phil and Ed for speaking about Debi as person and how she conducted herself . It is nice to see her fellow employees speak so well of her.

  4. This is a very sad development not only for me personally, but also for the City of Edmonds. I have worked with Debi for 15 years now and in that time she has only demonstrated courteous professionalism. She brought a sense of caring to the HR department that essentially was not there prior to her appointment as director. It’s a very difficult position to address the needs of the staff while administering the rules, policies, and interests of the city. In my opinion, there is not a more capable person to provide that service. Good luck and God Bless Debi, you will be sorely missed!

  5. I am surprised by mayor Coopers actions. I find his explanation for this action less than sufficient for such a long time employee. Debi is one of the most insightful HR personnel I have known. In my experience working with her she has shown to be very dedicated to the city of Edmonds and to the employees of the city. It is also my shared opinion that there is not a more capable person than Debi for the HR department.

  6. I am saddened and surprised to hear the news about Debi Human. I have known Debi for many years and know that she is a well respected and a hard working employee for the city of Edmonds. I know her to be a woman of integrity, sound judgement, and unwavering passion for fairness. She is the type of person who would rather be fired than compromise her integrity and ethics. She has served the city and the citizens of Edmonds well over the years. We need more people like her working for the city, not less. My hope is that come this November the citizens of Edmonds make the right decision on who should have been fired from the City of Edmonds. I am a Edmonds business owner concerned where our city is headed under its current leadership.

  7. A sad day indeed. Ms. Humann has been a blessing to me and countless other city employees through the years. She has stood by me, cried with me, and worked hard to help me through difficult times. The phrase “above and beyond the call of duty” hardly describes her passion and professionalism. We are all shocked by this action and left wondering in what direction the city is heading. Somewhere, another city or organization will soon have the good fortune to gain a tremendous asset. We will miss you Debi. Good luck and best wishes.

  8. I am also saddened by the news. I greatly appreciated all of Debi’s insights and wisdom especially in regards to the effective and fair handling of human resource issues that would arise from time to time in the Public Works Department. I found Debi to be a very principle centered professional and a dedicated employee in serving the City of Edmonds. I wish her all the best.

    Noel F. Miller, PE.
    Former Public Works Director (1997 – 2010)

  9. As a life long resident of Edmonds and a 13 year employee of this city I am more than just saddened by this move by Appointed Mayor Cooper. I am truly appalled by his actions. I have had the pleasure of working with Debi Human on positive occasions as well as the displeasure of a negative occasion. Each time I was treated with the utmost respect and professionalism. Debi balanced the fine line between looking out for a City employee and the best interest of the City of Edmonds. Debi is exactly what a director of Human Resources should be. Tough and honest.

    I find it interesting that Mayor Cooper states “The city’s ability to function relies on a relationship between the Mayor and staff that is based on the highest level of trust and confidentiality.” It appears by the number of present and past employees (staff) that have commented, that Mayor Cooper may not fully understand what trust is, Or at least what his staff feels is trust. Debi has my ultimate trust.

    I also can’t help notice that there are no comments from any of our council members. Where do they stand? Were they aware of what Mayor Cooper was doing?

  10. I’m not sure if most of you know me, but I am Kyle Humann, Debi Humann’s son. I’m sitting here reading this article and the comments from City of Edmonds employees to my mother and she is completely blown away at the wonderful responses everyone has left. Trust me when I say, that I have never truly seen my mother cry until I read this article. I think we all know the reasons behind her getting fired from the City, and I hope we keep those reasons in mind when we vote this upcoming November. If the Mayor has a “lack of confidence in her abilities”, I would love to see his ability to justify this.

  11. Like the other’s who have commented on Debi’s dismisal from the City of Edmond’s staff, I was shocked and deeply saddened by what has happened. I have only worked for the City for 4 years, but have always found my interactions with Debi Humann to be professional, respectful, and very trustworthy. She always went above and beyond my simple questions to give me the answers I truly needed. I found her honesty and integrity a great asset to our city and will miss her.

  12. What a sad day for the City of Edmonds! I had the pleasure of serving with Debi for 8 years. You will not find a harder working employee than Debi. She doesn’t deserve such disrespect by being fired for doing her job and doing it well for years. Clearly there needs to be a change in the Mayor’s office and come November there will be!

  13. I fully back Mr. Browning’s stand point on this subject. Where is councils comments on this issue. And was this totally out of the blue?

  14. I briefly had interaction with Ms. Humann a few years ago and always found her very competent, helpful, and friendly. I do find it interesting that the mayor (who I assumed was doing a pretty good job) decided to make this change at the time he did. I personally don’t feel the need for the council to chime in on this because is this really their concern?? Hopefully all will come out in the wash and one way or another this decision will make it easier for us to elect our next mayor.

  15. Well I do feel there are certain councel members who stand to gain from Debi being let go. I find the timing even more ironic and supports my gut feelings on what really is going on with our mayor and city council. I have to question an early morning rumor I heard. Was Debi offered money to not sue the city for her termination??? So many law suits ?? What really is going on with this city. Have we really become Lynnwood?

  16. Jim P # 17

    I believe it is the council’s concern. The mayor himself in his statment brought the council into the mix. “In order to have the public trust the city needs a committed staff that maintains that highest level of trust with the mayor and council.”

    So I ask again where is A statement from a certain Councilman that was present at the time that Debi was fired.

  17. I am very happy to see that so many people in Edmonds have left messages of support to my Aunt Debi. She is the most honest, couragous, trustworthy and competent employee any company or city could ask for! I agree with my cousin Kyle in the fact that most people who work around Debi and the Mayor know exactly why she was let go. Compitancy had nothing to do with the reason. I have a feeling that this November many people will have this on their minds when they vote, at least I sure hope they do.

  18. I have worked many issues and committees with Debi. I also have over 35 years of experience in the corporate arena working significant human resource issues and can firmly state that Debi is the consummate professional. Mayor Cooper’s statement is hallow, shallow and devoid of facts. It clearly points that Mayor Cooper’s ability to make rational well thought decisions is suspect and should be part of the due diligence any voter does in this election cycle. I would concur with the comments of others here that there are Council Members with a hand in this mess.

  19. This is what happens when you challenge the current power base with rule violations. They don’t like it and get rid of you.

  20. So what did she do. Whats the real reason MIke you are a public employee and the citizens want to know what happened,

  21. I would venture a guess that any support the mayor had from City employees, has now evaporated. Unless there is something hidden in Ms. Humann’s actions, which I doubt is the case, this decision makes no sense to me at all.

  22. I worked with Debi for nearly a decade and her reputation for fairness and thoughtful approach to resolving issues is greatly appreciated. She has been a valued and trusted employee for the City and can hold her head high knowing that when faced with numerous challenges throughout the organization, she demonstrated professionalism and a genuine commitment to do what’s right. We miss you.

  23. I understand most of the city council was told nothing about this firing until my edmonds news first relased it, then an e-mail from the mayor. I have spoken with most of the council including Council President Peterson and no councilmember I spoke with was aware of any situation up to and leading to Ms. Humann’s firing.

    Adrienne Fraley-Monillas
    Edmonds City Council

  24. Hey everyone, hold on here. If Cooper loses this election Debi can
    interview with Mayor Earling. I would say that all is not lost.
    On the other hand this can be a blessing by exposing Cooper for
    what he is to more Edmonds voters. For that we should all be grateful.
    Dave Page

  25. I’m not an employment lawyer. However, I do know that discussing personal issues in public lead to law suits. Mayor Cooper is being advised by his lawyers. I am simply amazed that all of you who think yourselves savvy businessmen and politicians would not think of the legal consequences of discussing HR matters in public and simply create spin. Even Ms. Humann knows that, I’m sure. Enough of the gossip and rumor.

  26. I have known Debi for many years and worked with her on the Memorial for Chief Stern. She is a great lady, honest, hard working, and she has a good moral compass. I wish her the best. By the Way…Just took down my campaign sign supporting “Appointed” Mayor Mike Cooper. Just can’t support a guy that makes knee jerk decisions! BOOO-

  27. The City Council Agenda for Tuesday Evening, May 15, 2012 indicates that Ms. Humann has filed a claim for damages for an undetermined amount.

    A Description of Tort & Statement of Damages is attached to the claim and includes the following:

    1. Deprivation of Liberty Interest without Due Process of Law
    2. Defamation
    3. Wrongful Termination & Violation of Washington Law Against Discrimination
    4. Description of Damages

    There is a related document on the City’s website with 9 pages of information.

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