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The city of Florence participates in training following allegations of sexual harassment by fired city manager

FLORENCE, Colo. (KRDO) -- The City of Florence appears to be taking steps to address city hall harassment issues revealed by the former city manager's arrest last year.

Former Florence city manager Mike Patterson was quietly fired in late August 2021 and then was arrested in November for stalking, unlawful contact, and providing alcohol to a minor. Police records obtained by 13 Investigates show Patterson's charges are related to his behavior with his female staff at city hall.

According to city records, city staff received harassment training from Employer's Council on Wednesday. A city Facebook post says City Hall shut down for the second half of the day on Wednesday to attend the training.

An article published by the Florence Citizen, a newspaper owned by a city employee, said that "the new leadership pushing for a zero-tolerance policy within the city staff, this is a step in the right direction."

The Florence Citizen also says city staff will participate in mandatory training once a month moving forward.

Our team reached out to interim city manager Sean Garrett by email and phone for comment on the training and article by the Florence Citizen but have not yet received a response.

On Thursday, the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), the city of Florence's current insurance provider, held training for city council members. The training included various topics, including harassment, conflict of interest, and liability as elected officials. Council members and the mayor asked several questions involving best practices to conduct city government business.

Public records obtained by 13 Investigates show the city of Florence retained CIRSA as its insurance provider again for 2022. CIRSA previously insured the city for years until it switched insurance providers to Travelers Insurance for 2021. City council minutes from November 2, 2020, show then-city manager Patterson advocated for switching to Travelers Insurance because it was "slightly less expensive and tailored to the needs of the City."

According to the City of Florence's CIRSA contract for 2022, the insurance provider will not cover any liability or claims related to the former city manager. It's unclear why the insurance provider won't cover those claims, but police records for Patterson's arrest show that a former city clerk successfully sued the city for frequent sexual harassment involving the former city manager.

13 Investigates has learned from several government officials that the claim involving sexual harassment allegations against Patterson was settled in 2019, when CIRSA was the city's insurance provider.

City council members have previously told 13 Investigates they have been advised by their city attorney to not comment on Patterson's case or firing.

If you have a tip or lead you'd like our team to investigate, contact us at 13Investigates@krdo.com.

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.

Comments

2 Comments

  1. “According to city records, city staff received harâssment training from Employer’s Council on Wednesday.”
    .
    Does this mean they weren’t previously required to attend such straining? I thought it had been mandatory for many years for everyone to attend harâssment training.

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