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To avoid potential lawsuits, Salt Lake City has agreed to pay a total of nearly $14,000 to two former employees of Mayor Rocky Anderson.
The settlement agreements with Deeda Seed and Christy Cordwell don't mean the city concedes the women had valid claims, said City Attorney Ed Rutan.
"If the issues had been brought to litigation, the city would have prevailed. It was a common-sense economic decision - it costs less to settle than to have to litigate," Rutan said.
The deals were signed by Anderson last week and obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday through a records request. They provide money that isn't normally due to employees who leave city jobs.
The city agreed to pay Cordwell - Anderson's office assistant until she quit in late August - $6,767.84 to cover personal leave she didn't take while working at the city, a health-insurance premium and severance. The city usually doesn't pay severance unless employees have been fired. The city also will $1,000 to pay her attorney.
Seed - Anderson's communications director until she was fired in late August - will get $5,000 to cover health-insurance expenses and $1,000 for attorney fees. That's on top of the $4,300 Seed took in severance.
And as part of the settlement, Anderson and Seed wrote a joint statement to "reiterate our mutual belief that there should be no doubt of the other's commitment to improving Salt Lake City for its citizens."
Contacted on Wednesday, Seed said the statement was in lieu of a public apology she wanted from the mayor for calling her incompetent.
"It recognizes this has been a really hard thing for both of us. We were friends for a lot of years. I personally feel some sadness about all of this," she said. Seed worked for Anderson as his chief of staff during his first term, and she worked on his re-election campaign in 2003.
Anderson declined to comment Wednesday and referred to the joint statement.
The statement reads in part: "We recognize each other's strong commitment to creating a more just, humane and environmentally sustainable city. . . . We have successfully worked together on a number of projects designed to achieve these goals for Salt Lake City's citizens, and each of us will continue to work towards these goals. . . . [W]e wish each other the best."
It also expresses regret that the end of their professional relationship became public.
It was a very public firing. Seed charged that Anderson degrades employees, and she called him abusive. Cordwell, who quit right after Seed was fired, said she never had seen the mayor treat men the way he treated Seed.
Anderson denied any gender bias, and he ended up issuing a curt statement to reporters saying he had lost two good friends and was sorry if he "said or did anything that hurt or caused anxiety to anyone."
Nevertheless, Seed said Wednesday that she stands by her criticism of the mayor's management style.
"It wouldn't have come to this if Rocky had been more willing to be reasonable from the beginning. He wasn't. I told him I was looking for another job and he said, 'You're fired.' ''
That left her without health insurance for her family, she said, something remedied by the settlement.
Seed said Wednesday that she and Cordwell were considering a gender-discrimination suit. The settlements preclude any type of lawsuit.
The city has settled with two other employees who have left the mayor's office since Anderson took charge in 2000, according to an open-records request.
One agreement was with Jennifer Blum, who left in 2000 after working in the mayor's office for about a year as an office facilitator. She received $3,877 for unused vacation, personal leave and "compensatory leave."
The city also provided a copy of an agreement with Dianne Hesleph, who was the city's Olympic coordinator and departed in 2000. The agreement provided to The Tribune wasn't signed, but Rutan said the settlement was executed. Hesleph received $3,677 for unused vacation and personal leave along with severance benefits.