City hands off ACLU demand to attorney and insurance adjuster
The Nome Common Council conducted a special meeting Sept. 30 to hold executive sessions closed to the public on two issues: Selection of a new city manager and another session on a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union, Alaska demanding $500,000 on behalf of Clarice “Bun” Hardy.
City staff will be negotiating a city manager contract with Glenn Steckman, an applicant from Reading, Pa. (see related story).
As for Hardy’s case, the ACLU is representing Hardy in her claim that she reported a rape in March 2017 to Nome Police Dept., but police did not respond or follow up on the assault. Further, then-Police Chief John Papasodora did not forward the case to Alaska State Troopers as he had informed her he would, according to Hardy’s claim. As a result, the claim states, irreplaceable corroborative evidence was lost evidence.
Hardy’s report was “ignored to the point where an adequate investigation of her case became impossible,” the ACLU letter said. “This abject failure to act, by people she trusted to keep her safe, has caused Ms. Hardy severe psychological harm and emotional distress, leaving her unable to work or even to feel safe in the City of Nome.”
The ACLU seeks $500,000 on behalf of Hardy to resolve her claims without court intervention for compensatory and punitive damages, as fair compensation for severe emotional impact, from NPD’s actions, and inactions caused her, as well as her inability to seek or hold remunerative employment as a result.
The offer remains open until 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 11.
“Just for the record, with regard to the ACLU, the letter and the claim— this letter and demand has been forwarded to Brooks W. Chandler, one of the City’s attorneys from the firm Boyd, Chandler, Falconer and Munson, LLP,” Interim City Manager John Handeland said.
Chandler in turn tendered the letter and claim to the City’s insurance carrier, through Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Assn. The City has Police Legal Liability through JIA and would follow the counsel of the two entities concerning the ACLU demand letter, Handeland said.
“They will respond with a letter in a timely manner,” Handeland said. “They will be the ones that are responsible for directing either the representation of the City, should this come to a court action, or to make any decision to consider other action to potentially mitigate the liability, if there is any,” Handeland said.
“Alaska Municipal League Joint Legal Assn. representatives, will actually be in Nome on Oct. 2, to gather information and then they will respond with a letter in a timely manner. Now that’s the end of that discussion,” Handeland concluded.
The Council could further discuss the demand, Handeland told the Council. “I guess that’s simply to advise you where, what the status is. If you want to have any discussion, that should happen in executive session, which we can do,” he said.
Handeland did not make any further comment.
On Sept. 24, a statement to news organizations went thus: “The City’s efforts to improve community policing and sexual assault investigations in particular have been well publicized. The City continues to welcome public input on this process, but ill not comment on any particular matter or investigation.”
The Council let the executive session concerning the ACLU’s demand remain on the agenda, but did not take any action.