Denver City and County Building

The Denver City and County Building.

Denver City Council ousted a key staffer on Monday, but the impetus for the move remains murky.

The council voted 11-2, with councilmen Christopher Herndon and Kevin Flynn opposed, to fire council staff executive director Leon Mason.

The council did not publicly discuss the decision, which came after a closed-door executive session that lasted about 45 minutes.

“It was just the will of the body to go in a different direction,” Council President Jolon Clark told Colorado Politics.

Mason, who has held the position since 2017, was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Aug. 9, Clark said.

Flynn said in an email to Colorado Politics on Monday that Mason hasn't been accused of any misconduct.

“I want to be clear, because ‘unpaid leave’ might cause some to assume he had been accused of some serious wrongdoing, that in fact he has not been accused of anything, and I am very upset that it was done this way,” Flynn said.

However, Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca’s chief of staff, Lisa Calderón, has said her boss got little support or guidance from Mason’s office when she was transitioning into office.

CdeBaca was one of three new council members who defeated incumbents in last spring’s election. A total of five newcomers were sworn in over the summer.

Herndon declined to comment on why he voted against Mason's termination. 

In other business, the council unanimously approved a $1.55 million settlement to end a lawsuit brought by 15 women who alleged that they faced a "hostile work environment" and unequal treatment while employed at the county jail.

The lawsuit, initially filed in U.S. District Court in Denver in 2015 by two female sheriff’s deputies, argued that the Denver Sheriff's Department failed to protect them from sexual harassment by male inmates.

The agency required female deputies to supervise both men and women being held at the jail but did not require the same of “similarly situated” male deputies, according an amended complaint filed by the plaintiffs in 2016. 

Since the case began, 13 more women who are current or former Sheriff’s deputies have joined the litigation, said Ryan Luby, a spokesman for the Denver City Attorney’s Office.

About $610,000 will go to Denver law firm Jester Gibson & Moore, which represents the women. The rest of the payout will be distributed among the plaintiffs.

The council also OK’d the purchase of the Salvation Army’s Crossroads homeless shelter at 1901 S. 29th St. The city plans to lease the shelter to the organization, which will continue to operate it.

The acquisition is intended to safeguard the roughly 41,000-square-foot facility from being bought out by a developer, city staff said during a recent briefing before a council committee. 

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