Councilwoman JoAnn Conner settles lawsuit against City of South Lake Tahoe (updated)
Following a closed session at the Aug. 2 South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting, Mayor Wendy David announced that councilwoman JoAnn Conner has settled her lawsuit against the City of South Lake Tahoe.
“We do have some reportable action from our closed session [on] JoAnn Conner versus the City of South Lake Tahoe, and we would like to announce that the city and Conner met in mid-June in a mediation session and we reached a settlement agreement in which Conner agreed to dismiss the city in Conner versus the City of South Lake Tahoe with prejudice,” said David.
“The parties are in the process of finalizing the terms of the settlement agreement. Once finalized, the settlement agreement will be executed. The agreement will result in each party covering their own cost and fees, and there will be no payments between the parties.”
Following the Aug. 2 council meeting, Conner told Tahoe Daily Tribune that the mediation took place on June 14.
“Everybody on the council and the city manager signed off on the agreement. We will accept the entire agreement, no less,” said Conner.
The details of the agreement have not yet been released, though it was clear that no money will be exchanged. As for when the agreement will be made public, Conner said, “That’s up to them.”
On Dec. 9, 2015 Conner filed two lawsuits in the El Dorado County Court contesting the city council’s Oct. 19 vote to censure her due to alleged bullying of staff and members of partner agencies. One of the suits challenges how the city applied its censure protocol to Conner, and the other challenges the protocol itself.
“Council member Conner believes that the city’s decision to censure her, and decision to prohibit her from speaking with city staff were not based on substantial evidence, were not supported by the findings, were contrary to law, and were arbitrary and capricious abuses of discretion,” reads one of the lawsuits.
City manager Nancy Kerry was named along with the city in the lawsuit.
“This is clearly retaliatory in nature for my actions taken to protect the employees from any unnecessary or undo harassment by council member Conner,” Kerry said back in December.
Conner’s alleged threat to defund code enforcement officers was cited by Kerry as an example of behavior leading to the censure vote at the Oct. 19 council meeting.
Seven letters were submitted for the public record, with one supporting Conner. Kindred Murillo, president of Lake Tahoe Community College; El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel; and former councilwoman Brooke Laine were among those who supplied written statements in favor of her censure.
During the October meeting, council voted 4-1 to censure Conner and reaffirmed a decision by Kerry directing staff not to interact with Conner individually. Conner voted no on both items.
Total legal fees incurred by the City of South Lake Tahoe have not yet been released.
Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard handled the case for the city, for which council allocated $100,000 to fight the lawsuit and $10,000 for an attorney for Nancy Kerry. As of last month, the city had a tab of more than $75,000.
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