Update: Click here for my expanded coverage of the meeting.
In a surprise move, the City Council decided to immediately fire City Manager Brenda Bauer, sending her home in the middle of Wednesday night’s council meeting.
Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith was appointed acting city manager. The council estimates it may take six months before a new city manager is hired.
The city had decided in late January to terminate Bauer’s contract, but had planned to keep her on for a few months while the council looked for her replacement.
Bauer’s sudden exit means she’ll get a bigger payout from the city. Her severance package had included $75,000 plus six months worth of benefits. Having her leave before the 90-day transition period ends means she’ll get an additional $37,500.
“The council felt this was in the best interest of the city,” Councilman David Ward said when asked about the decision to have Bauer leave early. He and other council members declined to say anything more specific.
Ward made the motion for Bauer’s immediate firing. Council members Sarah Blossom, Debbi Lester and Steve Bonkowski supported the motion. Council members Anne Blair, Kirsten Hytopoulos and Bob Scales voted against.
Hytopoulos said the move to fire Bauer was “shocking and embarrassing.” She added that the council has become “negative, paranoid and broken.”
A scuffle broke out in the council chamber shortly after the vote was taken. Former city council candidate Robert Dashiell exchanged angry words with former councilman Bill Knobloch over Bauer’s firing. Dashiell said Knobloch pushed his chin with a finger and that he responded with a shove. Knobloch said Dashiell did more than shove him, but would not say more. Police were called but no arrests were made.