Herald Journal, March 8, 2004
Winsted public works supervisor terminated
By Ryan Gueningsman
Winsted Public Works Supervisor Damon Thompson’s employment contract was terminated last Monday as a result of providing inaccurate answers to questions he was being asked in an investigation by the city.
Winsted City Council met in closed session Feb. 19, Feb. 23, Feb. 24, and last Monday to conduct an investigation.
“Our investigation now being concluded, a motion was made during the prior closed session today, March 1, that disciplinary action was warranted as a result of the investigation,” said Winsted Mayor Don Guggemos upon re-opening the special council meeting last Monday.
The council had one of two options for disciplinary action: indefinite suspension without pay and a written warning that any further violations will result in termination of employment, or immediate termination.
Council member Tom Ollig motioned that termination be the action taken against Thompson. The motion unanimously passed, with council member Bonnie Quast being absent.
“Specifically, what are the inaccurate answers being actioned here?” asked Thompson’s attorney Terry Moore of Steingart, McGrath and Moore from Minneapolis.
“Those were discussed in a closed meeting,” Guggemos said.
“The city council should state in an open meeting what the inaccurate answers are,” Moore said.
“In stating specifics as to those inaccurate answers, the City of Winsted may be violating federal law in revealing the confidentiality of certain issues concerning the reason why the council was even asking those questions, said Winsted’s attorney Kelly Dohm of Melchert, Hubert, and Sjodin of Waconia.
“We’re cautious here in responding to that answer. By responding, we don’t want to give Mr. Thompson a claim against the city by going into detail as to the specifics.”
“Is there a way you can disclose what those are without violating federal law? Mr. Thompson has a right to know why you’re taking action against him, and ‘inaccurate answers’ is extremely broad,” Moore said.
Moore asked the council that he be supplied with copies of the tape of the closed meeting and the other closed session hearing tapes.
“In confidential communication, I would like to know what the inaccurate statement was,” Moore said.
The council approved a motion instructing Dohm to comply with any requests that she can.