Regional MPO agrees to settlement in departure of executive director

FORT COLLINS — The North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization has reversed a decision made in January to terminate its executive director and has permitted the former director to resign. It also agreed to pay the former director, Terri Blackmore, $42,000 to release the MPO from all claims made against it, including a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge that she had filed after her termination.

BizWest previously reported that the MPO terminated Blackmore’s contract after placing her on leave Nov. 27, 2017. The governing council of the MPO acted upon receipt of reports or complaints, and on Jan. 4, 2018, voted to terminate. Jan. 4 will now be recorded as Blackmore’s date of resignation.

Specific allegations against Blackmore have not been made public but were discussed in executive sessions.

Blackmore hired an attorney and filed the EEOC complaint, which had not been resolved. In executive session discussions and through its attorneys, the MPO planning council negotiated a settlement with Blackmore that resulted in a change to how her termination would be characterized. It agreed to the cash settlement in exchange for a release “from any and all actions, claims and demands” that had been made against the MPO.

The cash settlement, the negotiated release said, was not an admission of liability on either Blackmore’s or the MPO’s part but was “only a settlement done for economic reasons.”

Blackmore agreed not to discuss the settlement with the media or anyone except her spouse, attorneys, accountants and agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service. She further agreed “not to negatively talk about” the MPO and not to threaten future claims.

For its part, the MPO agreed to pay for mediation services used in reaching the agreement, to not seek reimbursement of severance previously paid to her, to “keep all board discussions to a minimum” when acting on the settlement agreement in a public session and to “take reasonable steps” to provide only verification of employment and dates of employment if asked by a future prospective employer.

Blackmore served as executive director from 2013 until January of this year. Suzette Mallette is the current executive director.