Park and Rec's Simonson, Lemoore leaders compromise on $100,000 settlement

Updated 8 years ago By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Park and Rec's Simonson, Lemoore leaders compromise on $100,000 settlement

As part of an employment separation agreement between the City of Lemoore and longtime employee and Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson, the longtime city employee will retire and walk away with a $100,000 compensation payment for what Simonson claimed was personal injury and emotional distress relating to his being place on administrative leave and other conduct by the City.

Lemoore officials announced Monday (Feb. 29) that Simonson, after nearly three months on administrative leave, will retire. His retirement took effect on Tuesday. He will receive his $100,000 lump sum on Friday, March 4.

City employees were told of Simonson’s impending retirement in an 8:30 a.m. meeting on Monday. It is still unclear as to what prompted city officials to place him on administrative leave.

However, included in the separation agreement, which The Leader obtained, were details that Simonson had indeed been the subject of an investigation conducted by an outside investigator regarding allegations of misconduct.

Simonson also claimed that he has “suffered certain personal injury and emotional distress due to certain conduct of the City,” and according to a section in the agreement, both sides compromised and decided to settle “actual and potential issues.”

In addition to the $100,000 payment, Simonson will receive $13,512 in accrued vacation and other compensation time.

Simonson was placed on administrative leave in early December while city officials kept mum on the reasons for it, saying said that the matter is a “personnel decision… and not a matter for public discussion.”

City Manager Andi Welsh issued a press release on the matter Monday morning.

In regards to the investigation’s report, the City agreed to seal the report from an outside investigator as a result of the allegations of misconduct received by the City in Simonson’s file, subject to “disclosure only upon a lawful subpoena, court order or other legal process.”

Simonson began his 23-year career with the City of Lemoore as a Senior Maintenance Worker in 1993 and was promoted to Public Works Superintendent in 2001. In 2008, he accepted his current position of Parks and Recreation Director.

In her release, Welsh stated that “Simonson was part of the city during a time of growth and change in Parks and Recreation and was instrumental in the development of the Cinnamon Municipal Complex into a hub of community recreation.”

Welsh said the city will begin a search for a new Parks and Recreation director in the near future and will rename the position as Community Services Director.

Most city officials supported the city manager’s stance in regards to Simonson, saying she followed state and city code in respect to Simonson’s privacy rights.

"I respect Mr. Simonson's service to Lemoore and wish him well," said Council Member Ray Madrigal. "I am also glad to have this situation behind us and glad we can move on with a replacement. Parks and Rec is comprised of many dedicated employees. The new director will be joining a leadership team that seeks to maximize the potential of all city employees."

However, some city officials weren’t so pleased. Recreation Commission Chairman Dustin Fuller blasted Welsh at a commission meeting saying that she “failed to notify this commission that our director was placed on leave. It took you five days to give us information…” He also added that the issue was financial, saying the inaction against Simonson was “not fair to the taxpayer. Paying him for nothing is wrong too.”

The only councilmember to complain was Billy Siegel who blasted the city manager for not keeping him informed. “I’m on the city council and we’re supposed to be in charge of this town. but we don’t have a lot of the answers…”

Comments powered by Disqus