TOWER— Former Tower City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith has rescinded her approval of a settlement agreement with the city of Tower, a decision that resulted in her automatic dismissal and the loss of …
TOWER— Former Tower City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith has rescinded her approval of a settlement agreement with the city of Tower, a decision that resulted in her automatic dismissal and the loss of a modest cash settlement that the city had agreed to pay the embattled former employee.
Under state law, Keith had up to 15 days to take back her approval of the agreement, which she signed on July 31. The ramifications of her decision are unclear, but it is unlikely to prevent the city from moving forward with plans to hire a new clerk-treasurer.
By signing the agreement last month, Keith acknowledged that she understood that if she were to rescind the agreement, it would result in her immediate and automatic termination from city employment. Under her union contract, Keith may still have the right to make her case to the city council before the council can take final action. That opportunity could come as early as next Monday’s council meeting.
Attorney Mitch Brunfelt, who helped the city negotiate the settlement agreement, told the city council earlier this month that he had negotiated many such agreements over the years and couldn’t remember a case where an employee rescinded an agreement after signing it.
Keith’s decision could complicate her employment prospects moving forward. Under the settlement agreement, the city agreed to present her separation from city employment as a mutual decision— effectively a resignation. But given Keith’s reversal, she’ll now have a termination on her employment record.
Keith’s decision also likely increases the odds that city officials will pursue charges stemming from her acknowledged destruction of a city laptop computer that she had been directed to return following her suspension in June. Keith told city officials at the time that she had her son shoot the computer after it appeared to cease functioning. She then claims to have driven over the laptop with her pickup. The seriousness of that offense is likely to hinge on the value placed on the computer and the data that it contained. City officials have already stated their intent to seek recovery of the value of the computer and the data from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. While the value of the older computer may well have been less than $1,000, the value set on the lost data could be considerably more than that.
Under Minn. Stat. 609.595, the intentional destruction of someone else’s property, without their permission, is a felony if the damage reduces the value of the property, measured by the cost of repair and replacement, by $1,000 or more.
Keith already faces criminal charges for falsifying official city records. She’s set to make her first appearance on that gross misdemeanor charge in St. Louis County District Court in Virginia on Aug. 30.