Written by Jerry Engler Wednesday, 02 May 2007 07:16After a 45-minute executive session and taking questions from the crowd gathered, Marion Mayor Mary Olson made a motion at a Monday special meeting to dismiss City Administrator David Mayfield.
Councilor Bill Holdeman seconded the motion.
Councilor Stacey Collett objected that the motion had been made because, he said, Councilor Gene Winkler, an EMT, had been called away on an ambulance run to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. Collett said he wanted Winkler present for any such decision.
In response, Olson and Holdeman withdrew the motion and second.
After more discussion and a second 30-minute executive session, the meeting was ended with promises from the mayor and council members that the subject would be reintroduced at next week’s regular Monday meeting.
At several points in the meeting, Mayfield supporters were apparently laughing and smiling in ridicule of Olson for her deliberate conduct of the meeting, and were joined in smiles and winks from one of the council members.
Mayfield asked for a hearing saying he had received no copies of complaints or written notification of faults in his job performance.
At several points, Olson said Mayfield wouldn’t want complaints about him made public. She said she had already discussed them with him. When Holdeman appeared ready to speak to that issue, Olson cautioned him that it might not be in the council’s interest to have points about Mayfield’s alleged performance discussed publicly.
City Attorney Dan Baldwin said the council could grant Mayfield a hearing, but that probably it was under no obligation to do so.
A copy of Mayfield’s contract with the city made Oct. 28, 2002, signed by then Mayor Eloise Mueller, states, “It is expressly understood that this appointment or subsequent reappointment shall not limit the scope of disciplinary actions available to (the) City under its employee procedure manual including termination if such action is appropriate to actions of (the) employee.”
The contract also reads, “If either party elects to terminate this appointment as city administrator, it is expressly understood that (the) employee, David Mayfield, shall be immediately reappointed to the position of chief of police at the then current salary for the position of chief of police.”
The employment manual for the City of Marion states, “All employees are considered to be at will employees for the purpose of city employment.”
A Marion businessman active in city government who asked not to be identified said this means the city can dismiss any employee “just because it wants to.” The businessman said all city employees are required to sign this at the time of their employment.
Police Chief Michel Soyez resigned last week, but agreed to stay on for two weeks. Although Mayfield’s contract said he could be reappointed as police chief, the businessman said the city also would have the immediate right to dismiss him from that position.
Between the two executive sessions, and before her motion, Olson called for comments from a dozen persons gathered.
Jim Crofoot, a former city commissioner before the council form of government was adopted, said at the beginning of his 15 years in office, the city had no administrator. He said Diane Hett was the first administrator.
Crofoot said since then the red tape and bureaucracy the city deals with has grown immensely, “so I hope you aren’t thinking of doing without an administrator.”
Crofoot said in his experience that Mayfield had performed well as an administrator.
David Crofoot, Jim’s brother and fellow officer in Western Associates, said it would be important to the business’s investment in Marion, and for Marion’s chances to move ahead, to have a city administrator.
Jim Cloutier, said his oil and gas company has put significant money into its building in Marion, and had planned further investment here because of the input from Mayfield. He said the company has planned on placing more of its assets in Marion, but would reconsider if Mayfield is dismissed.
Cloutier, who lives in Hillsboro, said he had been planning to move to Marion but very well might return all of his assets to Hillsboro as well as staying there to live if Mayfield is dismissed.
Cloutier said, “What the hell am I doing here putting all of this money into Marion if you are deciding to go backward?”
Gerald Henderson asked if the council has a formal performance process for a city administrator.
Baldwin said, “Yes and no—over the years different councils have handled it in different ways.”
Henderson asked Mayfield if he had ever received a negative review, and when his last one had been.
Mayfield said he had never received a negative review, and his last one was in January.
Henderson asked, “What has changed in three months? What has happened in this amount of time that all has changed, and you’re ready to do something so disastrous? None of it makes sense.
“It appears that the only thing that has changed is that we have a new mayor.”
Olson held up a handful of papers that she said are related to the case, and said something had changed, but it wouldn’t be advantageous to Mayfield’s future well-being to reveal everything publicly.
City Economic Development Director Jami Williams said that as a person with educational degrees relating to development, she has been impressed since her employment with all the self-taught skills Mayfield has gained since becoming administrator.
Former Mayor Max Hayen, said that in his work, he meets with 400-some cities, some without administrators and some with, and it’s the ones with administrators that are moving ahead. He said Mayfield’s work has been “exemplary.”
Andy Hanson said that as a young businessman in Marion, he has been impressed by Mayfield’s ability to treat a young person equally, and give them advice.
Mayfield asked the council to grant him a hearing “tonight.”
Olson replied that the Council wouldn’t do that because of the absence of Winkler.
Jim Crofoot asked her, “Why have the terms changed,” and why was she willing to make the motion for Mayfield’s dismissal without Winkler but now was requiring Winkler’s presence for a hearing?
Holdeman pointed out that the motion and second had been withdrawn.
Olson said she had enough input from Crofoot, and wouldn’t be “hearing from him again tonight anyway.”
David Crofoot reminded the Council that the decision about Mayfield translates into “dollars and cents jobs.”