Fired Weston official paid $35,000 in settlement

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The City of Weston paid $35,000 to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by former City Recorder Denise Sampson, according to documents obtained by the Union-Bulletin.

The agreement was signed on January 18, 2013, one year after the City Council terminated Sampson by a unanimous vote.

Weston initially denied a public records request by the Union-Bulletin for a copy of the settlement agreement, citing the agreement’s confidentiality clause.

The newspaper challenged the denial on grounds that the settlement was an expenditure of public money and the public has a right to know how its tax dollars are spent.

After the newspaper’s law firm pressed the case, the Umatilla County District Attorney directed the city’s attorney to release a copy of the settlement. The newspaper received the documents this week.

“The Union-Bulletin has always believed it is important that government remember it works for the people and not the other way around,” said Rick Doyle, editor of the Union-Bulletin. “The people have a right to know what their representatives are doing and how their money is being spent. You can’t use confidentiality clauses to keep information away from those who actually own the information — the public.”

Sampson was terminated following two employee evaluations that occurred during closed City Council sessions.

Specific reasons for her termination were not disclosed and neither Sampson or the city may discuss the case under the terms of the settlement.

The settlement amount was paid by the city’s insurance, according to city officials.

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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