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Fair Director Threatened With Ouster Official Told To Respond To Allegations Or Face Termination

Sat., Feb. 15, 1997

A Spokane Interstate Fair manager who was reprimanded in 1994 and suspended for five days last year is in trouble again.

This time, operations manager Jim Cotter may lose his job.

County officials told Cotter in a recent letter that if he doesn’t answer a list of allegations, “there is a good possibility of termination,” confirmed Fran Boxer, director of parks, recreation and the fairgrounds.

It is the latest in a string of personnel problems at the fairgrounds.

Boxer’s recent letter to Cotter, which has not been made public, is the result of an investigation into alleged corruption and missing equipment at the fairgrounds.

A private investigator hired by county officials did not find proof of criminal offenses, said Boxer and county Commissioner John Roskelley. Instead, the allegations fellow employees made about Cotter “deal with management issues and safety concerns,” as well as “credibility concerns,” Boxer said.

Neither she nor Roskelley would comment further on the charges. To do so, Roskelley said, would put the county at risk of a lawsuit.

Contacted at the fairgrounds Friday, Cotter first said he planned to resign rather than answer the allegations.

“I’ve got my mind made up,” he said.

Later, he said he had changed his mind. Cotter said he is confident he can answer each allegation and keep his job. “I don’t see any validity to any of them,” he said.

Cotter would not discuss the allegations or provide a copy of the letter.

Cotter’s problems at the fairgrounds started in 1994, when he was reprimanded for making derogatory comments about fairgrounds customers who are homosexual. Last October, he was suspended without pay for five days for alleged sexual harassment of a female co-worker.

Fairgrounds manager Paul Gillingham was suspended for 10 days in July for alleged sexual harassment. He was forced to resign in November for mismanagement and “careless spending” that put the fairgrounds $200,000 in debt.

, DataTimes

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