The dispute between Alpine City and its former police chief appears headed for court.
Mayor Elaine Barnes said the city will not comply with either of two requests made two weeks ago by George E. Brown Jr., an attorney representing former chief Brent Leseberg.At a council meeting Jan. 8, Brown said the city had violated the terms of a termination agreement it negotiated with Leseberg. He gave the city 30 days to either:
- Reinstate Leseberg as police chief with a contract that expires the month following the term of the current mayor and contains the provision that he can be terminated from his position only for "just cause, which definition of cause must be satisfactory to Brent Leseberg."
- Or, pay Leseberg $1.5 million as compensation for damages in the matter without further proceedings.
Barnes made a short statement during the council's meeting Tuesday night, saying that at the advice of its counsel, the city of Alpine, its mayor and its City Council "respectfully" decline to reinstate Leseberg or to pay him $1.5 million or any part thereof. She said the city has not violated any part of the agreement it negotiated with Leseberg and passed as a resolution on Nov. 27.
Barnes fired Leseberg Oct. 31, later saying the action was taken because of a number of problems in the Police Department.
Problems cited by the mayor included low morale and lack of accountability to the council. Leseberg was allowed to resign and given a settlement package under the terms of the Nov. 27 resolution.
Brown said two weeks ago that if the city failed to comply with one of the requests, Leseberg would sue the city for breach of contract and defamation of character. Brown maintains the city breached its contract with Leseberg because it failed to turn over all copies of a tape recording of allegations of improper behavior involving Leseberg, and to destroy or give to Leseberg other transcripts and copies of the tape.
Also, Brown says attorney Lynn J. Lund, who represented Alpine in negotiations with Leseberg, violated a condition of the resolution prohibiting city officials, employees or agents from making statements about Leseberg's termination beyond information contained in the resolution.
Barnes said the tape was not leaked to news media by a city employee or official. The tape was apparently made last March, although she did not receive a copy of it until October. Copies of the tape may have been given to people outside the city during that interim, she said.
"Then the city should have included that (a statement that it wasn't responsible for copies of the tape not in its possession) in the resolution," Brown said.
Brown said he will wait to receive a formal letter from Alpine's attorney and then evaluate alternatives and "see how to handle it."