Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Public has a right to know why managers fired

Does the public have the right to know why public officials are fired or forced to quit?

The public pays the taxes that pay the salaries and elects the public bodies that do the hiring and the firing, so the obvious answer is yes.

Good luck finding out though, since elected public officials lately are refusing to reveal their reasons.

Last week, Oro Valley Town Manager David Andrews was told by the town’s mayor he was going to be fired and Andrews asked to be allowed to resign instead, according to stories in the Arizona Daily Star and the EXPLORER, a weekly that covers Oro Valley and Marana.

Despite a raucous and acrimonious town council meeting Wednesday, the four out of seven council members who voted to “accept” Andrews’ resignation refused to say why they were ostensibly firing the guy.

Only nebulous statements of there being “issues” with Andrews were offered.

Oro Valley has always been a politically tumultuous town. Acrimonious council meetings were common in the 1990s and the town suffered through four recall elections in six years.

It eventually settled down in the 2000s but disputes over economic incentives for shopping centers and annexations kept the political pot simmering. Wednesday’s travesty appears to be the catalyst to make it boil over again.

It would be easy to dismiss what happened in Oro Valley last week as being just what happens in Oro Valley.

But Andrews quit-firing is the second top official this year to be shown the door for reasons unclear or unstated.

In April, the Tucson City Council in a 4-3 vote fired Mike Hein for mysterious reasons.

The city hired Hein in 2005 to great fanfare. Though rumblings of discontent with Hein on the part of some council members began in late 2008, the vote to fire him caught everyone by surprise, including Hein.

Reporters tried to get the reason out of the four council members but the best that was offered was that some of them had “lost confidence” in Hein.

That’s not good enough. There at least should have been a litany of wrongdoing or failure offered up for both Hein and Andrews. Or, if it was personal, the council members should have had the guts to say they didn’t like their manager and wanted to work with someone else and even then they should have provided specific reasons why they didn’t like him.

Elected public officials seem to forget that they work for us and the bosses have a right to know why one of their employees got the boot.

The best way for the public to remind them who’s the boss is at the ballot box. In Oro Valley, there’s a good chance the four who voted to quit-fire Andrews will pay for their arrogance at the next election, if not sooner if threats of a recall materialize.

The same can’t be said for Tucson, where Hein’s firing has not been much of a campaign issue for the upcoming council election.

That’s too bad. If any city council need’s reminding that the citizens are the boss, it’s Tucson’s.

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