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Former city manager sues Henderson, City Council over firing

Updated Monday, May 18, 2009 | 6:14 p.m.

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Mary Kay Peck

Former Henderson city manager Mary Kay Peck is suing the city and its City Council members over her firing, charging her integrity and character were falsely impugned, she wasn't given a chance to answer allegations against her and that council members held illegal closed meetings to plot her dismissal.

The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas by attorney Norman Kirshman over the firing of Peck on April 14 during a City Council meeting.

Henderson city spokeswoman Kathy Blaha said Monday the city was notified Friday that Peck filed in federal court, but the city has not received the complaint and had no comment yet.

"We agreed to be served today, but we have not been served yet," she said.

Among other things, it charges she was wrongly denied her rights in her employment agreement.

"The termination of plaintiff's employment as city manager 30 months prior to the agreement's stated termination date violated her property interest in that she was not afforded a pre-termination hearing, or any opportunity to respond to allegations made against her at the public meeting on April 14, 2009," the suit charges. "Nor was plaintiff or her attorney apprised of the sources of the compound hearsay or given an opportunity to confront witnesses who allegedly provided those allegations."

Peck's suit charges of the City Council members: "During private meetings commencing in or about March 2009, the individual defendants conspired to remove plaintiff from her position." Private meetings about Peck, the lawsuit charges, were in violation of the state's open meetings law that states: "The Legislature finds and declares that all public bodies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."

The suit says that in the process of firing Peck, the city and the City Council members violated her rights to due process guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The suit re-counted the city's allegations against Peck:

--She created a "culture of fear."

--Her management style was divisive.

--She directed her staff not to share sensitive budget information with council members before providing the information to her and, in some case, withheld that information from council members.

--She excluded key staff and managers from meetings.

--She verbally abused staff members.

--She directed an employee not to attend a meeting even though Councilman Jack Clark requested that the employee attend.

--She was not truthful in dealing with council members.

--She failed in fiscal accountability leadership.

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