Elections, Exclusives, Featured, Politics, Sherrie Peif, Weld County

Weld County Clerk’s employment files nearly flawless; notate problems with previous clerk

GREELEY — The 14-year employment file of current Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes shows a nearly flawless employment history in the clerk’s office, where she has worked since she graduated from high school.

The only blips occurred in 2008 and 2012, but a document in Koppes’ file allege then Clerk and Recorder and current Weld County Commissioner Chairman Steve Moreno didn’t protect Koppes from sexual discrimination in the workforce and that he retaliated against her for not using her relationship with commissioner Sean Conway to get him out of pinch during the 2012 presidential election.

Carly Koppes

Koppes, who has never made the incidents public, told Complete Colorado that she attempted to file a complaint with human resources against Moreno, but Human Resource Director Patty Russell told her there was nothing she could do because Moreno was an elected official.

The allegations against Moreno only came to public light because Complete Colorado requested Koppes file after also requesting the employment history of Weld County employee Elisa Kunkel, who is challenging Koppes for the Republican nomination for clerk and recorder.

The county would not release Kunkel’s file claiming privacy issues. However, after the county asked a Weld District Court Judge to decide, Judge Marcelo Kopcow ruled he would release the vast majority Kunkel’s file to the media at 9 a.m. on Feb. 2.

The county released Koppes file without incident because she is an elected official. The file is 126 pages long and includes applications, salary changes, health insurance elections and other information as well as 10 years of performance reviews.

According to Koppes’ file, she was hired as part-time, seasonal help on July 12, 2004 at a rate of $10.10 per hour. She was hired full time by the county in 2006.

Her records reflect raises in July 2005 (also seasonal) to $12.44 per hour, November 2006 to $13.26 per hour, April 2007 to $14.13 per hour, May 2008 to $15.99 per hour, November 2008 to $16.47 per hour, May 2009 to $17.55 per hour, May 2011 to $18.06 per hour, May 2013 to $19.36 per hour.

She spent most of her career in the election department, but in 2014, Koppes was moved to the motor vehicle division because she announced her intent to run for clerk and recorder and could not work the election.

Steve Moreno

She was elected in 2014 and currently earns $102,500 annually. Earlier this month, the Weld County Council, which sets the salaries of Weld’s elected officials, raised the annual salary of the clerk to $120,485 beginning in 2019. The raise reflects the current state statutory salary of other clerks in non-home rule counties the same size as Weld County.

According to Koppes’ performance reviews from January 2007 to May 2013, she received either a 4 (exceeds job requirements) or a 5 (outstanding) 91 out of 96 opportunities. She received a 3 (meets job requirements), five times, four of which were concerning the 2008 election and one for the 2012 election. She never scored below “meets.”

“Carly demonstrates significant expertise at her job because of her in-depth knowledge and skills,” an entry in her first review (2007) after being hired full time reads. “She does an excellent job of keeping herself updated about current developments in her field. I like the fact that she likes to know about current events in the elections would and wants to read proposed legislation.”

Similar sentiments can be found throughout her file leading up to her election.

Her reviews began in June 2007, one year after becoming full time. A review was not done for 2013-2014 because by the time it was due, she had been elected, she said.

The only marks below a four on Koppes’ file came in 2008, 2009 and 2012, and all surround problems with a general election and Moreno.

Under “Teamwork,” it reads:

“During the primary and general election, there were situations where Carly, IT and the warehouse employees did not see the same way. This created uncomfortable situations that required upper management to defuse.”

That review is signed by Moreno on Dec. 19, 2008.

Despite the problems, Koppes’ direct supervisor wrote:

“However, at the same time, Carly has created relationships with other departments and people in the community that have helped the elections department out of difficult situations. An example of this would be securing the Exhibition Center at Island Grove Park when we did not plan allocation to train judges during the general election.”

Moreno recommended a promotion that year.

In a supplemental document in her file, however, Koppes told a different side, documenting sexual discrimination by employees working under her and an unwillingness by Moreno to stop the behavior.

Koppes said she had no respect from the men in the warehouse, who would tell her she needed to be sweeping the floor because that’s what women are supposed to do.

Other examples in her file include:

  • “I don’t let my wife tell me what to do, so why do you think I am going to let a young girl tell me what to do.”
  • “Go back to the kitchen and let the men handle this warehouse.”
  • “Don’t you have office stuff to do because that is the only thing girls are good at”

“I let Rudy and Steve know what was happening,” Koppes wrote. “Steve told me that this is the reason why back in 2006, he wasn’t sure if putting (me) in this position would work because I was a girl and maybe a girl shouldn’t be in the warehouse.”

Moreno told Complete Colorado he was aware something happened that year but couldn’t recall the exact situation, adding, despite that, he always provided guidance to his employees when needed.

“I recall her supervisor discussing warehouse issues with me although I don’t recall the specific year,” Moreno said. “As with any situation brought to my attention by a supervisor, I would have provided suggestions and guidance. It would have been up to the supervisor to follow through with any action taken.”

Koppes said she stopped reporting the problems because she believed Moreno would not do anything anyway.

“There are more comments made, but I don’t report it anymore, as it is clear Steve does not want to handle it and expects me to deal with the (sexist) comments,” Koppes’ file reads.

Moreno told Complete Colorado that he had never seen the supplemental document until Complete Colorado sent him Koppes’ file for comment. He said supervisors are not notified if an employee places a document in their file, adding that he was not her direct supervisor, anyway.

Koppes agreed, but said during the 2008 election, her direct supervisor was gone much of the time for personal reasons, so she took all her concerns directly to Moreno. The absence by her direct supervisor is documented in her performance review dated December 2008 and signed by Moreno.

“During my absence in the primary election, Carly picked up my slack when I was not able to work extra hours during the primary election,” a portion of the summary from that year reads. It was dated and signed on Dec. 19, 2008 by Moreno.

Koppes said she began keeping a running document on her computer, noting the problems so she could recall the events later if needed.

“I was never told I had other options,” Koppes said, adding it wasn’t until 2013 when she added the entire document to her official employee file.

She said after the election, Moreno recommended she no longer oversee the warehouse. She said that felt like retaliation because of an incident during the 2012 election where a contract for temporary help was voided because it was signed without the approval of commissioners, who have to approve all contracts for the county.

The voided contract caused last minute confusion and urgency right before the presidential election. She said Moreno asked her to call in a favor from her uncle, Commissioner Sean Conway.

It was her next review where she received her only other three. She was knocked for “Reliability,” but there are no comments included.

“Steve told me how disappointed he was with me that I could not change my uncle’s mind to what he wanted,” the report reads. “And that (he) hopes I learned my lesson as far as the warehouse guys, and that I should probably just stay in the office and let Adam and Rudy do more of the work, and I should just be more supportive of them … as he plans to have those same warehouse guys back and they don’t want a girl telling them what to do, and that they like Adam better anyways.”

Although he signed the review documenting the issues in the warehouse and admits the conversation concerning Conway occurred, Moreno questions the entire supplemental document because the dates don’t add up.

“I have never retaliated against Carly,” Moreno said. “But this is where it gets confusing to me with the document. The date at the top states “2008 event.” The second sentence starts “last year (2008)” implying that it was written in 2009. However, the third paragraph where she talks about the conversation with Sean did not occur till 2012. This discrepancy in her timeline makes me question her entire unsigned and undated document.”

The discrepancy Moreno points out is Koppes marked the final entry as having all occurred in 2009.

When questioned about it, she admitted it was wrong, but said it was a mistake she didn’t notice at the time because she never planned on her file becoming public, so she didn’t write the document to be “public ready.”

“Every time I was documenting these things, you have to realize, I was not in a great mood,” Koppes said in a broken voice, clearly shaken by the idea she would put out false accusations about Moreno. “I wasn’t exactly worried about my grammar or punctuation. I was just trying to put it into words.”

She said at the time the document was placed in her file, she had never dreamed of running for clerk and recorder, so she was only trying to protect her employment. She said the final paragraph was a summary of reviews in 2009 and 2013 concerning the 2008 and 2012 elections.

In fact, Koppes didn’t even use the information when she ran for office in 2014, knowing Moreno supported her male opponent for the clerk and recorder office.

“What would have been the point to bringing it up during the campaign, yes, I knew Steve wasn’t supporting me in 2014, but it wasn’t about him,” Koppes said. “I wasn’t trying to make Steve look bad so I could win. That is not who I am. I don’t drag others down to bring me up. I have tried to keep my responses above board, and he wasn’t going to be in the office anyway.  I knew how I had been treated, and I knew I wasn’t going to do the same to my people if I was able to get elected as the next clerk and recorder.”

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