Mountlake Terrace Community Senior Center Board of Directors’ President Cynthia Wesley gave a succinct statement of support to the center’s Executive Director Mike Cooper Monday night in response to questions following a federal court ruling against Cooper late last week.
“Mike is doing a good job serving all of us at the Senior Community Center,” Wesley said in a written statement.
Cooper was named as one of the defendants in a wrongful termination suit filed in federal court in January 2013 by former City of Edmonds Human Resources Director Debi Humann. A three-week trial ended on Friday with a federal jury returning a verdict in favor of Humann, awarding her more than $1 million in damages.
Cooper had been serving as City of Edmonds Mayor in the fall of 2011 when Humann was fired from her city HR Director position.
Humann filed the civil case against Cooper and the City of Edmonds claiming that her firing on Sept. 22, 2011, was retaliation against her assisting the State of Washington Auditor’s Office in its investigation of alleged misuse of city funds. Humann had turned over payroll time sheets of Cooper’s executive assistant, Kimberly Cole, to the state auditor’s office, who was responding to an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint concerning Cole’s compensation (Cole was alleged to have collected payments on unearned vacation and sick leave).
Though Humann was told by the State Auditor’s office that state law would protect her from any retaliation for her cooperation, she was fired from her city position by Cooper.
The 10-person federal jury ruled in favor of Humann on all claims that she was wrongfully terminated, retaliated against for filing a complaint seeking her job back, and was defamed and slandered by Cooper in statements he made to the press concerning her trustworthiness. The jury awarded her $1,035,351 in damages.
Cooper had been appointed Mayor of Edmonds in July 2010 and served until November 2011, completing the term of former Mayor Gary Haakenson. Cooper’s bid for election to a full term as Mayor in 2011 failed as he lost to Dave Earling.
Cooper was appointed Executive Director of the Mountlake Terrace Community Senior Center in May 2013. Under his leadership the senior group moved out of their former home, an 800 square-foot cinder-block home in the city’s Town Center District, into the 6,800 square-foot Ballinger Clubhouse at Ballinger Park earlier this year, and has seen an increase in its membership.
– By Doug Petrowski