Clarion city administrator resigns

Separation agreement paid him over $29,000

CLARION — Clarion City Administrator Jordan Cook has resigned from his position following two closed city council sessions to review his performance.

A separation agreement signed Tuesday stipulated the city will pay Cook $29,240 in exchange for release of any future claims against the city regarding his employment. That severance includes four months of salary, unused earned vacation and personal leave and six months of insurance premiums.

Following closed Clarion City Council sessions on Aug. 20 and Sept. 3, Mayor Duane Asbe placed Cook on administrative leave.

Asbe declined to answer The Messenger’s questions as to whether such a severance agreement was typical for someone seeking to voluntarily depart from their city position. He also declined to specify whether the separation agreement drafted after two closed sessions was prompted by the city or by Cook.

He simply said the separation agreement was in the best interest of the city and taxpayers.

The agreement, which became effective immediately and waived the normal 60-day resignation notice requirement, stated that Cook’s resignation “is not regarded as a resignation in lieu of termination.” That language matches relatively new changes to Iowa open records laws that make public any employee file information related to a resignation in lieu of termination, including documented reasons and rationale that posed the situation.

The city will refer future employer references to Asbe, who will be limited to responding only with Cook’s dates of employment, salary information and a note saying he resigned from his position.

The agreement was “executed as a compromise settlement of a disputed claim, liability and/or wrongdoing for which is expressly denied by the parties released,” the document says. Beginning paragraphs of the separation state that the agreement settles all issues regarding Cook’s employment to avoid the “necessity of any further administrative or legal action.”

Asbe declined to elaborate on any potential disputes or claims of wrongdoing.

Cook had served as city administrator since November 2017. The Nebraska native previously served as an assistant to the city engineer of La Vista, Nebraska.

Asbe will remain chief executive officer of the city, per city ordinance. It’s unclear who will assume the city administrator’s duties in the interim to a new hire.

The city’s human resources subcommittee will meet today to begin the conversation on the best path forward to handle current operations while seeking a permanent replacement.

Cook could not be reached for comment by press time.