Dave Zabell has less than three weeks to go before he leaves the city of Fife for his new job as Pasco city manager, but he still has some issues to deal with.
A whistleblower filed a lawsuit in June saying the city retaliated against him for opposing illegal activities that happened in the Fife Police Department three years ago, according to The News Tribune of Tacoma.
Russell Hicks also says that Zabell, who has been Fife's city manager since 2011, initiated an "unwarranted and retaliatory investigation" against him.
The police department faced several investigations over a period of several years that eventually led to the resignations of a detective and a lieutenant in 2011, the paper said.
Then last week, Fife Police Chief Brad Blackburn resigned, with several unanswered questions and a separation agreement with the city worth more than $100,000, The News Tribune reported.
Zabell told the Herald that he couldn't comment on the lawsuit, other than to say it is the city's position that there was no unwarranted investigation.
But Zabell did say that Pasco's employees will be treated with respect.
"I would invite anyone to ask any of the union members (who worked under me in Fife)," he said. "I think (in Pasco) they can expect a positive relationship."
Fife is also dealing with lawsuits from two people who wanted to open marijuana retailers in the city. Like Pasco's, the Fife City Council voted in July to ban marijuana businesses.
Zabell, whose final day in the city just east of Tacoma is Aug. 12, has been in contact with the staff in Pasco while he prepares to take on the new job, he said. He also has been looking for a home in the city.
Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins and Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik couldn't be reached for comment.
Zabell was chosen over three other finalists and unanimously approved by the city council June 16. He will receive a starting salary of $175,000.
He is a former assistant city manager in Yakima, who also worked in the cities of Bothell and Marysville. Zabell has a master's degree in public administration from the University of Washington.
w Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom