A packet of unsubstantiated claims made by former City Finance Director Jodi McClurkin, against the city and City Administrator Drew Nelson, including the news that she had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim, was photo-copied and dropped in an unknown number of mail boxes across Salida earlier this week. The distribution was done by an unknown person, or persons. The packet includes a lengthy letter from McClurkin, as well as two others; from Deputy City Clerk Lynda Travis and City Clerk Alisa Pappenfort. Both Travis and Pappenfort deny having given permission for documents attributed to them to be distributed publicly, or used as substantiation for an EEOC claim.
Pappenfort says she felt coerced into writing what she thought was a private document; she said that having done advocacy work, she wrote down a “mirror” what McClurkin was telling her. Not only did she have no idea it would be made public she says, but said that McClurkin heavily edited it.
“When I was told it was in a packet being circulated around town, I said ‘How did you get that letter?’ It was done without my blessing. I wouldn’t have made accusations about skimming at the pool facility. That was me telling her story….I was deliberately left off her email distribution. Probably she knew I would be upset. If I had been creating something for public distribution it would have looked a whole lot different than that. It would have been clear I was telling her story. Frankly the story was so wild I had to put it down to try to make sense out of it – it’s very bizarre, especially spreading it at people’s doors.”
McClurkin was terminated by the city on Nov. 26, the date on the packet. Irregularities had surfaced about her performance, her dealing with financial institutions with which the city has relationships, and a general inability to do the job, including preparing for the city’s financial audit. Auditor and accountant Dan Cudahy, a partner with McMahan and Associates, reported to council that McClurkin made three attempts on May 29, Sept. 25, and a third during the first week of November, “to provide documentation to support the amounts in the financial statements, and all three attempts have failed.”
Nelson and Mayor P.T. Wood both confirmed that the city has yet to receive official notification of McClurkin’s EEOC claim. A call to the Colorado EEOC Denver Field Office, where the claim would need to be filed, revealed no evidence yet that a claim has been filed with that office. According to EEOC guidelines for the state of Colorado, any equal employment claim must be filed within 300 days of the negative job action.
Some might think that McClurkin’s complaint package reads like a novel. It includes literary references such as “dagger filled eyes” and being “subject to machinations.” It contains unsubstantiated conclusions of the intent of others and repeated references to the “unrealistic expectations” placed upon her.
Travis, whose personal document was attached to McClurkin’s packet, confirms circumstances similar to Pappenfort’s. “I did not give consent for it (my letter) to be used. It was a personal matter that I confided in her about and not intend for public use. She used it without my knowledge or consent … putting it in a packet distributed all over town. What she has done does not involve me. I have been put in a really delicate situation; she created a wedge between me and my coworkers, and my boss, and between the women in this community. I support all these groups but they don’t understand that I am being used as the symbol of what’s happening – it’s not based on a foundation of truth.”
Travis confirmed that she is drafting an official statement regarding the situation. Pappenfort indicated she is doing the same.
The timing of the packet distribution could be seen as suspect; arriving prior to the contentious Dec. 4 council session where Nelson’s contract was upheld. “I think this was an attempt to influence the vote tonight,” said Pappenfort on Tuesday afternoon. “Like PT said, they haven’t seen an EECO complaint – with her behavior she probably hasn’t been able to engage (a lawyer).”
Council Member Cheryl Brown-Kovacic confirmed on Tuesday that the packet appeared timed for impact. “We put her on administrative leave as soon as we found out the extend of the financial debacle. She now has been fired and she brought the suit when she found out she was being fired. As to distribution, she knew the vote was tonight and put more fuel on the fire with this.”