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  • Writer's pictureDeirdre McCrohan

Ex-Tiburon town employee files $500K whistleblower claim over firing

Former Tiburon Building Official Clay Salzman has filed a $500,000 claim against the town, alleging he was fired in December in retaliation for whistleblowing.

The June 8 claim asserts Salzman was terminated chiefly because he resisted pressure over a period of about 18 months, starting in June 2019, to approve the occupancy permit for a major remodel of Sam’s Anchor Cafe.

The claim and other documents obtained by The Ark assert Salzman did not believe elements of the project were up to code for disabled persons and that the town repeatedly placed him on leave so it could use other officials to sign off on cheaper, easily defeated fixes at Tiburon’s most prominent downtown business.

Primarily, Salzman said the rear gangways to two floating docks that provide access to Sam’s deck were too steep under Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and must be floated higher to reduce the grade, and he objected to the alternative of simply gating off public access to the docks.

In his claim and in several emails and conversations with The Ark, Salzman protested an inspection was approved by a subordinate while he was ordered to take COVID-19 quarantine leave, then, after he refused to sign off on that inspection because the repairs were undone, the town placed him on paid administrative leave and brought in additional contractors to finish the process.

The Ark has independently confirmed that despite the permits being issued, several of the same requirements that aligned with Salzman’s concerns are not being observed, including unlocked gates that must be closed to public and customer access and unlawful gaps between the boards on the deck.

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