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Former Columbia city budget officer pushes back on reasons given for his firing

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KMIZ
Kyle Rieman speaks with ABC 17 News.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

While City Manager John Glascock presented the FY22 budget Thursday morning, one of the people that helped prepare it watched from outside city government.

Kyle Rieman, the former city budget officer, was fired on July 26. The circumstances leading Rieman here has him confused.

"If you had asked me a month ago if John would do anything like this, I would have never fathomed the possibility," Rieman said.

Rieman is one of several city employees put on leave and either given the choice to resign or be fired earlier this month. While none were explicitly told why at the time, some think Glascock did so in response to a June 21 speech given to the Columbia City Council about employee pay. Rieman's attorney told Glascock putting him on leave for attending the city council meeting may violate state law and the First Amendment.

ABC 17 News reported on Monday that Rieman's partner, Colleen Spurlock, resigned from her spot as city manager fellow. Spurlock had been put on leave at the same time as Rieman, claiming she had nothing to do with Jarrett's presentation. She claimed Glascock's behavior had made the city a hostile work environment.

Rieman was in attendance when information technology employee Ryan Jarrett spoke to the council about a city ordinance he felt restricted pay raises in the city. Glascock was on vacation during that meeting. Two days after his return, Glascock sent an email to I.T. and Finance directors Jim Chapdelaine and Matthew Lue that claimed employees there "orchestrated" the presentation in an attempt to get it overturned while he was gone.

Rieman told ABC 17 News that he was there to support Jarrett in his speech. He said he looked over Jarrett's remarks to make sure they were accurate, but flatly denied that he ever coordinated the speech to happen when Glascock was gone or get the ordinance reversed.

"Never did I fathom that he would say that he was going to put me on leave because I was insubordinate for attending a public meeting," Rieman said.

Rieman, who started at the city in April 2020, said the situation has made it difficult for other city employees. A four-page letter he wrote to several city employees and addressed to "the Citizens of Columbia," claims Glascock abused his office in doling out discipline. The letter was also sent to the state auditor and Missouri Attorney General, which Rieman encouraged others who might have similar experiences in the city to speak with.

Glascock's letter explaining Rieman's termination has only left the former budget officer more confused. The letter provided to ABC 17 News shows that Glascock called him insubordinate for leaving things in the city budget that he had specifically requested be kept out. That included four new positions created for the I.T. department, which Glascock said he wanted left out in May.

Records show, though, that Glascock had eventually approved those new positions in June. An email on July 7 shows Glascock asked Lue for the list of I.T. positions "that I approved for FY22." Later that day, Glascock told Lue and Chapdelaine he would be cutting them from the budget while talking about Jarrett's presentation.

Rieman said he never went against Glascock's orders during the budget process, but instead tried to ask questions about the process. On July 7, Rieman said he had the positions cut as Glascock requested. Rieman said he believes this questioning may have played a part in Glascock's decision.

"He just kind of reacted because he was tired of being questioned by myself and others about his way," Rieman said.

At his budget proposal, Glascock did not address anything directly related to Rieman's situation. He did, however, say that he was adding two positions to the I.T. department in his proposal. The two are those he previously approved in June, but then cut in July.

ABC 17 News Investigates / Boone / Columbia / Local News / Top Stories

Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.

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