Judge asked to decide whether records on Delta chief’s departure must be released to newspaper

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction):  Former Delta Police Chief Robert Thomas, whose retirement was announced Tuesday after an unexplained month-long stint on paid leave from his job, received $50,000 in severance pay upon his departure and after signing a release, Delta City Attorney David McConaughy told The Daily Sentinel.

Delta, however, has yet to allow public access to related documents concerning Thomas’ departure.

McConaughy made the severance pay disclosure in response to a request filed Tuesday by the newspaper under the Colorado Open Records Act.

The city was asked to produce any severance agreement, or record of any benefit, that was provided to Thomas.

When The Sentinel earlier asked Acting City Manager Glen Black about a severance package, the newspaper was told it was a personnel matter that couldn’t be discussed.

Colorado’s Legislature, however, has said “any benefit provided” to a former public employee incident to his or her termination of employment is not “personnel data” and must be disclosed.

McConaughy has asked a Delta County district court judge to decide whether release documents, which were signed by Thomas and the city, must be disclosed to The Sentinel under the Open Records Act. This, after Thomas’ Grand Junction lawyer, Michael Grattan, objected to public access.

Thomas’ lawyer argues disclosure would have a “chilling effect on resolution of employee and employment matters.”

Visit The Daily Sentinel for more.

Subscribe to Our Blog