The Tribune has filed a lawsuit against Scottsdale to force the release of City Manager Jan Dolan’s self-evaluation.
Scottsdale has repeatedly denied requests by the newspaper to release the only written documentation related to Dolan’s job performance, saying she believed the document would be confidential and its release could risk a future lack of honesty and candor in the evaluations.
After the city denied the request, City Council discussed the issue, which deadlocked 3-3 on Jan. 30 over whether to release the self-assessment for public review.
The 23-page complaint, filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, asks the court to order Scottsdale to release the records and award the Tribune its attorneys’ fees. No hearing date has been set.
“State law is clear — a promise of confidentiality can’t overcome a public body’s duty under the public records law, but that is exactly what the city of Scottsdale is doing,” said Dan Barr of Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, an attorney representing the Tribune.
Scottsdale spokesman Pat Dodds said the city will be consulting with an outside legal firm, but has no further comments at this time.
Dolan is the city’s top-paid employee with a base salary of $181,083 a year, plus an additional $25,351 a year in deferred compensation.
The council discussed her performance in a closed session in December, then voted 4-3 on Jan. 16 to give Dolan an 8 percent raise. Despite the objections of three council members, no written job performance review was produced.
Councilman Bob Littlefield has called for the release of the self-evaluation.
“Of course we were wrong,” Littlefield said. “It was a bad decision and we have no right to hide those.”
But Councilman Wayne Ecton stands by his vote to keep the evaluations private.
“It was well understood by all the parties that this was a confidential document and for our use and would not be released,” Ecton said.
On Dec. 1, the Tribune made a public records request for job performance reviews, self-evaluations and the compensation package for Dolan and three other officials that report directly to the council — City Attorney Deborah Robberson, City Clerk Carolyn Jagger and City Auditor Cheryl Dreska.
The city released the compensation information, and after consulting an outside legal firm, denied the self-evaluations. There were no written job performance reviews in any file.
In 2004, the Tribune sued the city to receive a former Scottsdale police officer’s written evaluation. Scottsdale eventually released the review, and was ordered by a judge to pay the Tribune’s attorneys’ fees.