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City settles lawsuit with employee

HEAVENER -
HEAVENER
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At first glance Wednesday’s Bremerton City Council executive session appeared to be just another lawsuit filed against the city, but a closer look revealed the end of a longtime city employee’s career.

Bremerton Fire Department’s senior office assistant specialist Carole Heavener has agreed to submit her resignation immediately to Fire Chief Al Dukes with an effective date of Feb. 1, 2008.

In a letter to the council Assistant City Attorney Ken Bagwell wrote, “Last year she (Heavener) was placed on administrative leave due to a pending investigation regarding her conduct. The investigation had to do with violations of City policies and procedures.”

Neither Bagwell nor city officials gave any further details about those alleged violations, which led to the dispute.

As part of her responsibilities under the settlement Heavener agreed not to “hold herself out as a representative of the City,” and “to release and hold harmless the City of Bremerton for any and all claims except for valid workers compensation claims.”

The city agreed to continue paying Heavener at her current rate until her last day of employment with benefits, to return any of her personal belongings and to treat her with the “same courtesy as all other retirees.”

Since Heavener will be retiring, the city also agreed to one more caveat as part of the settlement.

“The City agrees to provide Carole with a retirement party where she will be given awards for her lengthy service to the city,” Bagwell wrote in the memo to the council.

While the agreement appears straightforward, the timing of the actual discussion and decision-making was an aberration from the published council agenda.

During the meeting held in the council offices before the meeting, Councilman Adam Bockus asked council vice president Brad Gehring if the discussion had to occur during the actual council meeting.

“Can we do the executive session here instead of doing it down there?” Bockus asked.

The council would begin the meeting and then conduct the executive session as planned, Gehring responded before City Attorney Roger Lubovich weighed in on the matter.

“It’s been advertised but I don’t see why we can’t do it now,” Lubovich said.

Councilman Cecil McConnell said the council should just do it as planned instead of foregoing the meeting agenda.

Finally Gehring relented to Bockus’ request and closed the precouncil meeting for an executive session. The settlement was announced during the regular council meeting, but no details were given.

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