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Mill Creek Communications and Marketing Director Joni Kirk terminated after workplace investigation

The City of Mill Creek formally terminated Communications and Marketing Director Joni Kirk’s employment on August 2, 2019. According to a City of Mill Creek news release, Kirk’s termination was a result of the city’s recent workplace investigation.
Joni Kirk. Photo courtesy of City of Mill Creek.

By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.

The City of Mill Creek formally terminated Communications and Marketing Director Joni Kirk’s employment on August 2, 2019.

Communication and Marketing Coordinator Meredith Cook has been acting as the city’s media contact since the middle of June.

According to an August 5th City of Mill Creek news release, Kirk’s termination was a result of the city’s recent workplace investigation regarding the actions she took in firing Gordon Bink, one of her employees. He was terminated in March of this year.

The news release stated, “The city concluded that Ms. Kirk showed poor judgment. The city does not have trust and confidence that she could satisfactorily perform her duties as Director of Communications and Marketing and represent the city’s best interests in a leadership role.”

According to the news release, Kirk broke Washington State law by recording Bink’s termination meeting on her personal cell phone.

The news release reported, “Ms. Kirk has stated that she did not know Washington law required consent to record and maintains that she did nothing improper.  At the same time, she did not disclose the recording to the public records officer when records requests were made.”

Bink subsequently filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Washington Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) as a result of his termination, triggering the city’s workplace investigation.

The city placed Kirk on administrative leave during the investigation and rehired Bink on July 1st.

It’s interesting to note that Kirk was one of the whistle blowers who informed the city council of former City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto’s behavior, resulting in her termination last year.

Another whistle blower, Mill Creek Finance Director Peggy Lauerman, submitted her resignation on July 26th. Contractor Tara Dunford was hired to act as the city’s Interim Finance Director.

According to the news release the city is still investigating unfair employment practices, and declines to comment further.

Editor's note: This article was corrected to show that Gordon Bink was fired in March 2019, rather than June.

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