By Don Knox, STATE BILL COLORADO
Colorado Senate President Brandon Shaffer, together with the other top Senate leaders, fired the Senate’s top administrative officer without giving her a reason, she said Wednesday.
“I really don’t know anything except that I’m not down there,” said Karen Goldman, secretary of the Senate since the 2005 legislative session. She said she is being paid through the end of December. Goldman’s deputy, Cindi Markwell, is serving as the interim secretary.
Goldman’s firing, which wasn’t publicly announced, occurred two days after Colorado’s general election. But partisan politics likely had little to do with her dismissal because the majority status of the Senate, unlike the House, didn’t change: Democrats are staying in charge.
John Cevette, Shaffer’s chief of staff, confirmed the dismissal earlier Wednesday but said state personnel rules prevented him from elaborating. Shaffer presided over a meeting with Goldman attended by Majority Leader John Morse, Minority Leader Mike Kopp and Legislative Legal Services Director Dan Cartin.
Senate staffers are at-will employees under state law. They can be fired at any time, for any reason.
“Personality conflicts” may have been a factor, Goldman speculated.
“I think certain perspectives about me were put out there, and believed,” she said. “Unfortunately part of my role is to say no, when that’s the right thing to say. I’ve never said no without giving the reason why I’m saying no, and I think some people didn’t like to hear the word no.
“It’s a tough position to be in. I remember when Joan Fitz-Gerald was president, she said, ‘Your job is to tell me when I can’t really do something.’
“I know this had nothing to do with my performance.”
Goldman said she won’t fight the decision.
“I don’t want to. What’s the point? I have too much respect for the work I do to work for people who don’t appreciate me.”
As for what’s next, Goldman, formerly Lakewood’s city clerk, said she’s going to enjoy the holiday for the first time in eight years.
“I know a lot of people,” she said. “I’ve sent out some feelers, I’m sure there’ll be some opportunities for me to do consulting or contract work. I’ve been in government for a very long time. I have a lot of connections.”
Goldman said she appreciates the nonpartisan makeup of the Senate staff.
“People who work there love politics,” she said. “It’s fascinating, and everybody has opinions. I think for the most part everybody is nonpartisan, at least people who worked for me. The people who work for the Ds and the Rs [Democrats and Republicans] are supposed to be partisan.”