Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mayor suspends assistant city administrator; no action taken at special meeting

April 5, 2007

Tonganoxie Mayor Dave Taylor suspended a city employee Thursday morning, but he didn't give indication as to why he handed down the suspension.

And, despite meeting in executive session Thursday night at city hall for nearly two hours, city officials still weren't talking.

The saga appeared to have started Thursday morning, when Mayor Dave Taylor suspended assistant city administrator Kathy Bard, with pay.

Bard said Thursday afternoon that the mayor broke the news to her, but she was unsure of the suspension's specifics.

"I was put on administrative leave with pay, pending some investigation I'm not sure what," Bard said.

Taylor, who lost a re-election bid to challenger Mike Vestal on Tuesday by 24 votes, had little to say about his move Thursday afternoon.

"Everything is under investigation and I cannot talk about it," Taylor said. "I have no comment."

However, Taylor called a special council meeting to discuss "non-elected personnel."

At the meeting, the council met for 30 minutes with City Attorney Mike Kelly and then requested another 30 minutes and included City Administrator Mike Yanez in its discussions. The council met with Kelly and Yanez a final time for 45 minutes, after which it took no action and adjourned.

Taylor's last council meeting as mayor will be Monday's regular meeting. During the meeting, mayor-elect Mike Vestal will be sworn in, as will newly elected council members Tom Putthoff and Paula Crook. The two council members-elect will assume duties for Velda Roberts, who also unsuccessfully ran for re-election, and Ron Cranor, who chose not to run for a second term. Roberts and Cranor were at the special meeting, as were fellow members Jason Ward and Steve Gumm. Jim Truesdell was absent.

Yanez said Thursday afternoon that he was not at city hall when Taylor suspended Bard.

Yanez said that, by Tonganoxie's city code, a mayor has the authority to suspend a city employee. However, according to the city's personnel policy, adopted in 2000, the city administrator has the authority, which includes a pre-disciplinary meeting with the employee. That means the administrator holds a meeting with the employee to explain that the administrator could be handing out a suspension.

Bard said Thursday's announcement was her first knowledge of the suspension.

After the meeting, Taylor said he couldn't discuss the closed-door meeting, and council member Ron Cranor reiterated his stance.

"All of us were advised," Cranor said, referring to instruction from Kelly. "Anything that goes on in executives session stays in executive session."

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