Politics

Commerce City paid at least $162,000 to resolve a claim between the city manager, mayor

Commerce City’s manager resigned in June, a month after threatening to sue the mayor for slander and for attempting to get him fired, according to a letter sent to City Council from his attorneys.

Former City Manager Brian McBroom never filed a lawsuit, but he resigned after the city agreed to pay him $162,000 from his salary, his unused vacation and money for insurance, a resignation agreement shows.

In McBroom’s May 26 demand for resolution he accused Mayor Benjamin Huseman of “systematic efforts … to undermine and remove” him from his position and threatened to sue the city if his demands were not met.

McBroom, in the letter, says Huseman communicated with city council members in January in an effort to remove him from the city manager position. Huseman also defamed McBroom to former Commerce City mayor Sean Ford as well as other businesses owners in town, the letter said.

“I don’t agree with what Mr. McBroom’s attorney stated about me and I don’t think it is helpful to the city or to Mr. McBroom to discuss the allegations in further detail,” Huseman said in a statement. “In my opinion, the terms of the resignation are fair and consistent with the employment contract that was in place.”

McBroom’s attorney, Reid Elkus, said his client has no comment.

The letter also accused the mayor of various instances of “unprofessional conduct,” including:

  • Directing McBroom last year to go around the police chief to obtain information about the arrest of a city council member’s child
  • Instructing McBroom in February to allow the mayor to go to an active officer-involved shooting investigation, even though the mayor had no role in the matter
  • Ordering McBroom to create a new environmental engineering position without council approval or space in the budget

If the city did not agree to McBroom’s terms outlined in the letter — including a severance package of a year’s salary, a year’s worth of medical benefits and a reference letter — he intended to sue, according to the letter.

On June 15, Commerce City council, in a 5-4 vote, agreed to the resignation package.

But the vote caused consternation amongst several council members.

“People don’t leave their jobs because they hate their jobs,” at-large councilman José Guardiola said, according to the Commerce City Sentinel Express. “They leave their jobs because of their supervisors or their bosses. This doesn’t do justice to the residents of Commerce City.”

At-large councilwoman Meghan Grimes called the motion “fiscally irresponsible, given the circumstances that have led us here,” the article noted.

Under the agreement, the city will pay McBroom the remainder of his salary, nearly $162,000, as well as unused time off and money for medical benefits.

In March, Huseman apologized for his behavior on a city-sponsored trip to Washington, D.C., during which he said he couldn’t remember his hotel room after getting too drunk, and saying he mistakenly charged a bar tab to a fellow council member.

Commerce City hired an independent investigator to look into the incident.

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