SUN VALLEY • Sun Valley’s city administrator has been terminated, ending a contentious three-month period in the city’s history.
Sun Valley’s new mayor, Dewayne Briscoe, said that he terminated Sharon Hammer under a provision in the City Administrator Employment Agreement that provides for a severance pay equal to six month’s salary.
Briscoe had the unanimous backing of the city council in a 4-0 vote on Thursday.
In return, Hammer has waived her right to bring a claim against the City of Sun Valley because of the termination.
Former Sun Valley Mayor Wayne Willich, who lost his post to Briscoe in November’s election, placed Hammer on leave Nov. 18. He gave no reason for the leave, other than to say it was not a disciplinary action. But the city hired Naylor & Hales of Boise to conduct an investigation.
Willich then requested that she return from leave on Dec. 27. Briscoe placed her back on administrative leave after he took office.
Attorney Kirtlan Naylor filed a temporary restraining order at the time, saying her actions during her reinstatement gave Briscoe sufficient cause to place her on administrative leave.
After she was placed on leave the first time, Hammer filed a lawsuit against the City of Sun Valley saying the city failed to protect her from what she said was inappropriate behavior by Councilman Nils Ribi. She named Ribi, City Councilman Bob Youngman and City Attorney Adam King as defendants, alleging collusion in trying to have her removed from her job.
She offered to drop her lawsuit against the city in early January in exchange for a one-year renewal of her employment contract. She offered to drop Youngman as a defendant in the suit at that time, but maintained her legal action against Ribi and King.
Ribi said he and his wife Patricia Brolin-Ribi, herself an attorney, have filed a suit against Hammer’s attorney James Donoval for defamation of character over allegations Donoval made prior to the time that Hammer filed her suit. Donoval happens to be Hammer’s husband.
Naylor accused Donoval of “judicial terrorism” during a hearing in 5th District Court a week ago on a motion for an order to have Hammer reinstated to active duty with the city.
Ribi said the dismissal of Hammer’s lawsuit and the investigative report that cleared him of the accusations raised by Hammer are “clear affirmations” that he never harassed or threatened anyone in his role as city councilman.
“I was asked by two Sun Valley City officials to bring before the council evidence of questionable practices by Ms. Hammer and I did so,” he said. “The charges made against me were an obvious smoke screen designed to divert attention from legitimate inquiry into certain financial practices at city hall during the last administration. I don’t doubt that the chicanery and wild antics of Ms. Hammer and her husband will continue for some time to come. But I am pleased that the public will soon have an opportunity to judge Ms. Hammer’s conduct for themselves.”
Sun Valley City Councilwoman Michelle Griffith said she was relieved to see the matter resolved so that the city could focus on other matters. It will be up to Briscoe to hire a new administrator.
“We have to move on and the sooner the better as we have a lot on our plate,” Griffith said.
Neither Donoval nor Hammer could be reached for comment.