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Salt Lake Pays Severance to Avoid Lawsuits

Salt Lake Pays Severance to Avoid Lawsuits



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake City will pay nearly $14,000 to two former employees of Mayor Rocky Anderson in an effort to avoid potential lawsuits, City Attorney Ed Rutan said.

The city has agreed to pay Anderson's former office assistant, Christy Cordwell, $6,767.84 to cover personal leave she didn't take while working at the city, a health-insurance premium and severance. Cordwell quit in late August.

The city normally doesn't provide severance pay to employees unless they're fired.

Anderson's former communications director, Deeda Seed, 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. She was fired in late August.

Seed called Anderson abusive and said he degrades employees. Cordwell quit right after Seed was fired, saying she had never seen the mayor treat men the way he treated Seed.

Rutan said the settlements don't mean the city concedes the women had valid claims.

"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.

Anderson has denied any gender bias, but issued a curt statement to reporters that he had lost two good friends and was sorry if he "said or did anything that hurt or caused anxiety to anyone."

As part of the settlement signed last week, Seed and Anderson 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.

Anderson declined to comment about the settlement Wednesday and referred to the joint statement.

Seed said the statement was made 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 was Anderson's chief of staff during his first term, and later worked on his 2003 re-election campaign.

She 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.' "

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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