Communications director sent home for violation of privacy policy

Kirk claims she recorded closed-door meeting for her own records
Jul 09, 2019

The city’s director of communications and marketing has been out of City Hall for more than three weeks after allegedly recording a private meeting held to fire a member of her staff without advising any of the people in the room.

Joni Kirk has been on paid administrative leave for recording a meeting on Thursday, June 13, in which she intended to terminate Gordon Brink, the coordinator in the Communications and Marketing Department.

Recording and disclosure of private conversations without permission is listed as a gross misdemeanor under Washington state law.

“She won’t be back in City Hall,” said one member of the city staff who declined to be named. “What I do know is that Mill Creek asked the police department in Everett to get involved with the investigation to eliminate any possible conflicts of interest.”

The report on file with the Everett Police indicates Kirk reportedly asked Nathan Beagle, a supervisor in the city’s Public Works Department, to sit in on the meeting when Human Resources Manager Charlie Eikenberry and Interim City Manager Bob Stowe were unavailable.

Kirk said she had terminated other employees in the past, but had never recorded the meetings.  She emphasized that she made the recording for her own documentation and has only shared the recording with police and city officials.

Brink’s responsibilities in City Hall were initially assumed by Meredith Cook, who became the coordinator of the Communications Department on May 22. Brink returned to work in the Communications Department on Monday, July 1.

City Manager Michael Ciaravino told The Beacon that adjustments were approved in the city budget to allow for both employees to remain on the payroll.

The case has been forwarded to the Snohomish County prosecutor to determine if charges will be filed.

--Dan Aznoff

Comments (1)
Posted by: Michael Scherping | Jul 10, 2019 15:09

This seems like an honest mistake to me. I wouldn’t have thought that was illegal if I meant to listen back to it for my own intents and purposes. But that’s because my memory sucks and I’d want to make sure I didn’t miss any detail. I feel like this is going overboard - especially if she’s never done anything wrong before. She was great at her job!

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