Former city administrator sues Riverside over job loss

The former city administrator for Riverside has sued the city, alleging that a combination of age and a political vendetta led to him being forced out.

David Blackburn, 63, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Platte County Circuit Court. Blackburn, who had been city administrator for 12 years, claimed he was terminated in July.

In the lawsuit, he alleges that Riverside Mayor Kathy Rose told him to either retire or resign.

If Blackburn refused, the Board of Aldermen would terminate him.

“It was understood by everyone that his employment ended at the moment that conversation occurred on July 13,” said his attorney, Edward Keenan.

Meredith Hauck, the city’s director of administration, said the city looked forward to defending itself in court.

“We take seriously any allegations like those outlined by Mr. Blackburn but stand firm that these specific allegations are simply not true,” Hauck said.

In August, Rose wrote in the city’s newsletter that the Board of Aldermen had accepted Blackburn’s resignation.

The lawsuit alleges the city had contracted with a developer to prepare land for the construction of a vehicle parts manufacturing plant. Blackburn found out later the contractor had overbilled the city and was doing the work without a signed agreement with the city. Blackburn wanted to alert Rose but he was told by the city attorney not to do so, Blackburn alleges in his lawsuit.

The reasons Rose cited for terminating Blackburn included the overbilling and the work being done without a signed contract, the lawsuit said.

Blackburn claimed he was the oldest among four city employees responsible for ensuring contracts are signed. The other employees were at least 10 years younger, according to the lawsuit, which seeks actual and punitive damages.