The City of Edmonds is hiring an outside investigator to conduct a probe into allegations by Mayor Mike Cooper’s executive assistant, Kim Cole, that she was harassed in the workplace, according to the memo that Cooper sent to the Edmonds City Council Tuesday afternoon.
The memo also noted that because the council last Tuesday voided the settlement agreements made with Cole, she is on paid administrative leave “in accordance with the City’s personnel policies pending the outcome of the investigation into complaints she had regarding workplace harassment when she resigned.” Cooper added, however, that as mayor he has “the discretion to change her paid administrative leave status at any time, in accordance with the City’s personnel policies.”
According to Cooper, Cole’s attorney James Spencer sent an email to City Attorney Jeff Taraday last week noting that “Any paperwork she (Cole) signed regarding her resignation from the city was done as a consideration for the agreement that the Council has now voided.” In an email response to Spencer, Taraday agreed with Spencer’s assessment, Cooper said.
“It is important to note that the investigation will be conducted at arm’s length of the city administration,” Cooper said in the memo to council. The investigator “will work directly with WCIA Attorney Mark Bucklin; neither Mr. Taraday, me or my staff will be involved in the investigation and will not see the report until it is complete.” (WCIA stands for Washington Cities Insurance Authority, the liability insurance pool the city belongs to, and Bucklin is the organization’s general counsell.)
Cooper said that once the report is received, he will work with Taraday to determine next steps.