Transitions, 2 - Tucson Local Media: Editorials

Transitions, 2

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Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 11:00 pm

In summer 2008, the Marana Town Council and Town Manager Mike Reuswaat were parting the ways. Three members of the town council had decided it was time for a change. Some residents were resistant, and critical. Yet, in the end, Reuwsaat resigned his position, was given a severance package, and moved into a new job running the Northwest YMCA.

The sun has risen daily since then. And Marana has moved on.

Oro Valley is going to move on, too, following the resignation of Town Manager David Andrews. As will Andrews. He's a talented manager with many skills, and a resume that shows achievement and progress during his 17 years with the town.

That said, Andrews' resignation — accepted on a 4-3 vote by an increasingly divided town council last week — was uncomfortable to watch, at least a little surprising, and certainly raises a bucket of questions.

It has been suggested that Mayor Paul Loomis, and councilmen Al Kunisch, K.C. Carter and Paula Abbott, owe the public some form of explanation as to their decision to push Andrews out. They're not offering much. "A breakdown of communication," one said. "Things that weren't produced," said another. To reveal the reasons would be hurtful to Andrews, and his future, suggested a third.

Is an explanation owed? No, in fact. Just as in Marana, it's the responsibility of the Oro Valley mayor and council to evaluate the performance of the town manager, and to decide independently whether his or her employment should continue. No one else is in position to do so. No one else knows what they know. A manager's employment is, always, at the discretion of the mayor and council.

But, boy, the ugliness. And the many unanswered questions, more than can be asked in one day's writing.

Here's one — how much of a role did the police union and police fraternal association play in all this? They've been after Andrews, critical of his budgeting work, calling for a vote of no-confidence. The mayor and council would do well, now, to establish for the public that they're running the show, and not police labor.

While they're at it, it would be comforting, if perhaps unrealistic, to see if the town council can find some common ground. The majority has ruled. Now, each side should make overtures to the other, to let everyone — and the public — know that all ideas and perspectives are valued and respected. It's a lot to ask, we recognize. Meanwhile, an intriguing election season is approaching quickly.

We'll expect the police union won't be happy with the next town manager, either. Why? That individual is going to be working with less money and more demand for services. He or she is going to have to cut spending, perhaps more than this last, painful year. Police jobs must be part of the mix of overall budget decision-making.

Part of Andrews' undoing, candidly, is the fact he's been attempting to manage decline, rather than growth, as he did for all these years. There's no work more difficult than managing people, and it's never harder than when resources are shrinking. Andrews said a recommended layoff of 30-ish town employees last spring was the toughest decision he's ever made in town management. We believe him.

David Andrews has made mistakes, certainly, as we all have. That said, he has been an excellent public servant to his community. We thank him, and wish him well.


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