The Russ Burke lawsuit against the City of Montesano is over.
In a prepared statement released on April 21, former Montesano Mayor Ken Estes wrote:
To Montesano’s Citizens,
Last week I was pleased to receive confirmation from our counsel, Alex Casey, that the February 22 unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the Superior Court’s dismissal of the claims filed by Russell Burke and his spouse against the City of Montesano, Kristy Powell, the former City Administrator, Rocky Howard, the former Director of Public Works, and myself, then serving as Mayor, was final. I can assure all of you that when I was elected Mayor of the City of Montesano, I certainly had not anticipated having to work through the departmental issues which came to our attention nor to take the various administrative steps leading to discipline of some employees and, as to Mr. Burke, his dismissal. However difficult it was to carry out the actions, it was our duty to the Citizens of Montesano to make certain that the City’s resources were properly utilized.
I would like to thank the City’s insurer Nicholson & Associates Insurance and Travelers Insurance Company, for their belief in us; Alex Casey, Ann Trivett, and Robert Christie, the legal counsel designated to handle this matter at the various levels; Scott Snyder, the City’s labor counsel, for providing such effective representation at all levels; and Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers and Sgt. Shane Krohn for their assistance.
I especially appreciate the support of Dan Glenn (then city attorney), Rocky and Kristy as we worked our way through the various investigations and actions. Then, there has been the unwavering and so much appreciated support of my spouse without which this matter would have been even more difficult to work through. Also, I would also like to thank those Citizens of Montesano who understood why it was necessary to take the steps leading to this litigation.
In closing, when I received the complaint filed by Mr. Burke’s counsel back in 2013, I was both shocked and saddened by the allegations. The fact that after three and one-half years two courts have found that there was no legal or factual basis to support those claims which had received much news coverage and talk around town, reaffirms to me one basic point. That point is that while doing the right thing is often not easy, things come out right in the end. I can assure you that it has been a difficult period for Kristy, Rocky, myself and unfortunately, our respective spouses and families. However, that “book” is now closed and may all move on with their lives.
For those who would like to read the Court of Appeal’s decision, I have left a copy at the Clerk’s Office at City Hall.”
Ken Estes. Mayor 2012-2015
Reached in Utah for comment, Ms. Powell responded:
I’m glad that the city prevailed. Our responsibility was to secure and protect the assets of the City of Montesano and we did so. The results handed down by the courts support our actions.
The former Public Works Director, Russ Burke filed a lawsuit against the City of Montesano, et.al., after he was terminated in 2013 by then-Mayor Ken Estes amid allegations of misuse of city equipment and supplies per a theft investigation regarding city paint. Burke claimed he was terminated due to “political retaliation.” He filed a $400,000 claim against the city. (For background, see: Russ Burke Loses Appeal and THIS is What an Epic Fail Looks Like.)
A February 22, 2017 decision by the Washington State Court of Appeals rejected Burke’s claim. The decision affirmed a 2015 Superior Court ruling granting the City of Montesano’s motion for summary judgment. The appellate court also said the City of Montesano “had a legitimate reason to terminate Burke for insubordination.”
In fact, not a single court affirmed Burke’s claim.
To the Bow Wow Brigade and its lock-step “media” lackeys who used the Burke dismissal to launch and drive a hate campaign against Ken Estes and Kristy Powell and made maligning and savaging both your favorite indoor sport: Want some ketchup with that crow?
Shame on you.