Earling says he will reinstate Humann — for a couple of weeks, anyway

Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling said in a news release Tuesday night that he will be reinstating fired City of Edmonds Human Resources Director Debi Humann, although she will be laid off in a few weeks because the City Council decided recently to eliminate the HR Director position in a cost-cutting move.

After reviewing the recent whistle blower retaliation claim brought by Humann against former Mayor Mike Cooper, who fired Humann in September after he said he had lost confidence in her, Earling said he “was not able to reach a conclusion” that Cooper retaliated against Humann. However, given what Earling called “various apparent misunderstandings” between Cooper and Humann, he said he was giving Humann “the benefit of the doubt.”

“As a result, I am reinstating Ms. Humann as the Human Resources Director for the remainder of the year,” Earling said. “At the end of the year, she will be laid off due to the City Council’s elimination of the position.”

Earling is in the process of contacting Humann to determine a date of reinstatement, the news release said.

  1. Interesting. So, He brings Humann back on and then lays her off so that she can get unemployment compensation? I wonder,if this is part of some back room deal?

  2. After observing the Mayor’s style for years Priya is probably right. However, it seems to me to be a fair and reasonable move. Why shouldn’t Ms. Humann be qualified for unemployment compensation after her forthcoming two week stint?

  3. This is going to be an interesting interpretation of the City’s Code as the position of Human Resource Director is that of a City Officer.

    Per ECC Chapter 2.10 – Confirmation and Duties of City Officers. the mayor shall appoint, subject to council confirmation, the department director positions of police chief, fire chief, community services director, administrative services director, development services director, parks and recreation director, public works director, and human resources director. The city council shall interview the top three candidates for each position prior to the mayor’s final selection. [Ord. 3279 § 1, 1999].

    I do not know if a Human Resource Director can be hired without both Mayoral appointment and City Council confirmation. I do not know if the City Council has to be provided the opportunity to interview the top three candidates for each position prior to the Mayor’s final selection.

    Anybody have any thoughts related to this unusual situation?

  4. Then there is ECC 2.01.010 which documents the Duties of the Mayor:

    The mayor shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the city, in charge of all departments and employees, with authority to designate assistants and department heads. The mayor shall see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced and that law and order is maintained in the city, and shall have general supervision of the administration of city government and all city interest. [Ord. 2349 § 2, 1983].

    So, it appears that the Mayor has the authority to designate a department head, but he must appoint City Officers subject to City Council Confirmation.

    I wonder what the legal meaning of “designate” is versus the legal meaning of “appoint”.

    What happens when a Department Head is also a City Officer?

    In my opinion, our Code is in serious need of a major rewrite to correct errors and clear up ambiguities. For the Mayor to be able to see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced and that law and order is maintained in the city, it is critical that our Code be clear, accurate and easy to use.

    I wonder how much public and private money is lost every year directly or indirectly related to the current condition of the City’s Code?

  5. Teresa,

    I am unable to find the Press release you refer to in the article above. It is not on the City’s website. Can you post it?

    I am curious if the Mayor’s reinstatement addresses the the recent whistle blower retaliation claim. Has this claim been withdrawn or settled as a condition of reinstatement? I wonder if a whistle blower type of claim can even be settled or if the claim has to run its full course once filed.

    Hopefully the Press Release clarifies this.


  6. Thanks Teresa and Ron,

    I’ve read the press release now. I thought that an administrative law judge was the one that would be making the decision on the recent whistle blower retaliation claim.

    RCW 42.41.040(7) states that:

    Relief that may be granted by the administrative law judge consists of reinstatement, with or without back pay, and such injunctive relief as may be found to be necessary in order to return the employee to the position he or she held before the retaliatory action and to prevent any recurrence of retaliatory action. The administrative law judge may award costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party.

    Maybe I am missing something here and the Mayor has this authority. Reading the RCW’s makes it appear to me that this claim would have been before an administrative law judge by no later than December 5th, assuming the local news was correct in reporting the related claim was delivered to Edmonds on October 13th. Again, I may be missing something – just trying to understand this process.

  7. The Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) conducts administrative hearings – a legal proceeding designed to review a state or local agency decision before an impartial judge. Each party to an administrative hearing has a right to present and question witnesses, and to submit or challenge documents regarding the decision. The result of the proceeding is a decision to affirm, modify, or set aside the original agency decision.

    The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) conducts administrative hearings for state agencies according to the Administrative Procedure Act, Chapter 34.05 RCW.

    RCW 42.41.040(5) states that:

    Within five working days of receipt of the request for hearing, the local government shall apply to the state office of administrative hearings for an adjudicative proceeding before an administrative law judge.

    I wonder if Ms. Humann requested such hearing and, if so, on what date the City applied to the state office of administrative hearings for an adjudicative proceeding?

    I may be wrong, but I think the latest possible day the City could have done so was December 5, 2011.

    Hopefully, somebody at the City will clarify whether or not the City made an application to the state office of administrative hearings for an adjudicative proceeding. It would be helpful to know the date of the City’s application also, assuming the application was made.

    This would be a great example of open and transparent government – citizens would simply like to know where this issue is at.

  8. I just spoke to the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). They informed me that they have no record of any recent applications from the City of Edmonds for an adjudicative proceeding before an administrative law judge.

    If anybody wants to confirm this, the phone number is 360-407-2714. Ask for Barb Cleveland or one of her assistants.

  9. I knew I wasn’t going to engage in this format anymore but Roin B where do you come up with this stuff . FbI there is no federal crime here. If I was ms humann I would still go after the city job or no job she probably was wrongfully terminated and everybody that participated in this thing are gone copper and maybe dj so whats that tell you

  10. Dave Earling is a man of broken promises..

    He said he was going to end the drama at City Hall. So, why is taking actions that appeart to in fact perpetuate the very same controversary.

    Check out this week’s agenda and Finance Committee meeting minutes, where Earling strongly lobbied for 1.5% Cola pay increases for non-represented employees. Talk about poor judgment when most cities are cutting back.

  11. Hey Ron b the only point you make in any of your comments is that you think that people who work for the city are payed too much money. Thats all you ever say and you always complain about it, you seem pretty bitter about it , people who work for the city get a good salary so what is your point people who work for microsoft get good salarys too doctors get good salarys, I don’t understand why your so bitter, did the city fire you?

  12. I don’t know how any rational case can me made to show that city staff created the Kimberly Cole fiasco in order to get Dave Earling elected. The fiasco, and resulting bad PR for Cooper, surfaced after the Primary Election. In the Primary Election, Earling received 52.77% of the votes; Cooper received 39.18%. The race for mayor was already over.

  13. Ron B. What else can one say except wow and be polite. You say you have seen evidence, why dont you let the rest of us see it too. I prefer to let the investigation play out and then insist on open gov. and let the citizens know what unbiased investagators find out. You do seem to be a little cynical and bitter. Pardon any grammatical or spelling errors as I am just a hi school grad.

  14. Ron B first of all appricate the responce but I don’t have much control what the city pays its employees they probably are overpayed but since I have no say or control over it Im not going to worry about it. Im like everybody else a little more concerned about what I am doing and less concerned about what they are doing.

  15. Mayor Earling boasted in one of his later daily mailouts that he would “fix the city’s broken budget.”!!! How does a new and totally unjustified COLA fix the “broken” budget???.

    Or could it be that he is making an early pandering effort to ensure the loyalty of city workers at the expense of taxpayers???

  16. The City is insured through the Washington Cities Insurance Authority, known as WCIA. The related website is wciapool.org.

    The related WCIA July 2012 Executive Committee Meeting Agenda includes EDMONDS COVERAGE APPEAL.

    A review of the related 154 Page Agenda PDF DOCUMENT includes a discussion of the “City of Edmonds Declination of Coverage and Defense Appeal” starting on page 13 through 57 of the 154 page PDF Document.

    The discussion concerns what appears to be a partial WCIA coverage declination related to the termination of the City’s former Human Resource Director.

    Does anybody know the status of the City of Edmond’s July, 2012 appeal of the April 23, 2012 coverage determination issued by the WCIA Executive Director?

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