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Sparks selects new manager, approves $500k settlement with retired cop

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The Sparks City Council on Monday selected Dion Louthan as the city’s next manager. Louthan is the assistant city manager of Roseville, California.

Dion Louthan
Dion Louthan

“This has been a very thorough process,” Mayor Ed Lawson said. “We feel we have chosen the right person to be our next city manager. Mr. Louthan is authentic, has extensive experience, and has excellent ideas about moving the city forward. We are excited to welcome [him] to our Sparks team.”

City officials will negotiate a contract with Louthan. Approval of the contract will be on a future meeting agenda. Louthan was one of two final candidates. Council members said both were good candidates.

“We literally can’t go wrong with either choice,” Lawson said. 

Louthan was unanimously approved. Acting City Manager and Police Chief Chris Crawforth will remain in the position through July.

City settles with Forbush

The council also unanimously approved a more than $500,000 settlement with a retired police officer who was disciplined for four days after posting on Twitter tweets many considered vile and threatening. George Forbush sued the city after being disciplined for four of the tweets.

He came under fire in August 2020 after posting his comments, which included threats to modify guns and shoot protesters, that came in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police and a summer punctuated by protests nationwide, including in Reno and Sparks.

His four days of suspension, his attorneys said, amounted to $1 million in damages for “psychological and emotional harms,” lost wages and future employment prospects. They added, “Officer Forbush is a good cop” whose beliefs “are mainstream views held by millions of people, including a majority of the citizens of Sparks.” 

In addition to the lump settlement, which the city’s insurer will pay, the city will also have to pay—from its own funds—a post-retirement health insurance stipend. The stipend was added to the city’s contract with the Sparks Police Protective Association in February 2023 and applies to those employed on or after July 1, 2023. 

Forbush retired from the Sparks Police Department on Jan. 3, 2022, but included the stipend in the settlement offer.

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