Littleton’s city attorney on paid leave

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Littleton City Attorney Kirsten Crawford was abruptly placed on paid administrative leave, apparently at her request, after city council met in an hour-long executive session Jan. 29.

Mayor Debbie Brinkman asked Crawford and City Manager Michael Penny to wait in another room during the session. When they reconvened, Councilor Bruce Stahlman made a motion to place her on leave, pursuant to her request, until further notice. The motion directed her to remain available to the city during normal business hours. Councilor Phil Cernanec seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

Penny said no acting city attorney has been named, and Kristen Schledorn remains as assistant city attorney. Asked what the way forward looks like for the office, Penny replied: “Kirsten Crawford is on voluntary administrative leave, so there is currently no ‘way forward’ for the city attorney’s office. Ms. Crawford is still employed by the city as the city attorney.”

“This is a personnel issue, and I have no comment,” was Brinkman’s only response.

Crawford was appointed on March 6, 2012.

“The city council is thrilled to welcome Kirsten as our city attorney,” Brinkman said at the time. “She is a skilled litigator with exceptional experience in municipal law. Over the past three years, she has done exemplary work as our assistant and then acting city attorney. Kirsten is as passionate about her work as she is committed to Littleton, and we are looking forward to a bright future together.”

Crawford replaced Suzanne Staiert, whom council fired on the same day she filed an EEOC complaint against the city in September 2011. Staiert went on to become deputy secretary of state.

There was some discussion at the time that council might opt to outsource the position.

“The council discussed, in executive session pursuant to state law, options for negotiating for a contract attorney and in house,” Penny said at the time. “The council, as you now see, chose to stay with an in-house attorney.”

As the city attorney, Crawford, who did not respond to a request for comment, started at an annual salary of $133,428.

Crawford was an assistant attorney for Arapahoe County from 2004-08. Prior to that, she worked with the Adams County Attorney’s Office and in private practice. She at one time was a judicial clerk for the Judge Raymond Dean Jones with the Colorado Court of Appeals.

She earned her doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from DePauw University and is a graduate of Kansai Gaidai, University of Foreign Studies in Osaka, Japan.