COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Colleen Spurlock had been on the job for about a year for the city of Columbia. She was working as a fellow in the city manager's office, learning the ins and outs of government and helping with special projects and city council requests.
That job came to an end last week when Spurlock resigned. She was one of several employees put on leave suddenly earlier this month. Like the others, Spurlock said she was not given a reason explicitly at the time of her paid leave. It wasn't until two weeks of asking that she said she sat down with City Manager John Glascock and Assistant City Manager Carol Rhodes to discuss it. Spurlock said Glascock gave her two reasons -- that she wasn't available to him and that she had questioned some of his decisions.
Spurlock said she felt she was being punished for trying to help at the city, working on committees dedicated to pay and work culture. She said she was also covering the job duties of two other employees who had recently left the city manager's office. When she said Glascock gave her the option to either resign or be fired, Spurlock took the former.
"This is exactly the kind of behavior that we all have worked so hard to fix with the Transforming Government and the Strategic Plan," Spurlock wrote on Friday. "The goal of the Transforming Government events was to provide staff a workspace where they are psychologically safe, respected, and valued. This is the sort of behavior that the strategic priority area of organizational excellence intends to accomplish with their outcomes."
In an interview with ABC 17 News, Spurlock said the recent actions have created a bad working environment for other city employees. She said many feel like they are "walking on eggshells" around City Hall. She said Glascock's actions have made it difficult for her to consider going back.
"I do want to continue to help the Columbia community and give back to all of that," Spurlock said. "But not in a non-safe and hostile work environment."
Glascock did not respond to a request seeking comment on Monday.
Spurlock was put on leave at the same time several others were shown the door at City Hall. ABC 17 News reported last week when an attorney for Kyle Rieman, city budget officer, questioned Glascock's decision to suspend him with pay. Glascock said in a July 7 email that he felt city workers had "orchestrated" a speech a month prior to the Columbia City Council to get a pay ordinance overturned while Glascock was out of town.
The city confirmed Rieman no longer works there. Rieman and Spurlock are partners.
Spurlock noted this connection in another reason given to her for being placed on leave. Spurlock said she was not allowed to attend a conference with Rieman in July that had previously been approved. She asked the human resources director for more information on what policy dictates her not being able to attend, which Glascock said constituted her questioning his decision-making.
"He does get to make the final decision with a lot of things," Spurlock said of Glascock. "But that doesn't mean you get to abuse that. To state that because employees aren't supporting your decisions that they get the choice to either resign or be fired, that's clear abuse right there."