The firing of Debra Owen is another chapter in the demolition of the city's leadership team as we knew it. In a short 17 months, we have seen the firing of the following appointive officials in leadership positions in city government: Schwan, Amundson, Bartunek, Buseman, Hall, Felix, and now Debra Owen.
What makes the firing of Owen different than the other six appointive officials? This appointive official served under the city council and was not under the jurisdiction or authority of the mayor. However, the mayor played a significant role in the discussion and firing of Owen.
I have been told the mayor personally called for the Executive Session to discuss Owen's performance of a personal matter under her direct supervision. The mayor sat in on and took part in the city council's discussion regarding the supervisory performance of Owen in two closed executive sessions when this appointive official is not under his jurisdiction. City Ordinance Section 2-34 titled City Clerk states: All personnel, functions and financial responsibilities for operation of the office of the city clerk are assigned to the city council. Councilors Erpenbach and Aguilar brought the action forward to fire Owen. Add two more councilors to the puppet team of the mayor.
The mayor has no administrative authority over the staff of the city council. Owen is an appointive official serving at the pleasure of the eight city council members. Her staff in the city clerk's office are civil service employees but are not part of the mayor's administration. They are civil service employees in the city clerk organization which is under the jurisdiction and oversight of the eight elected city council members.
It has been relayed to me that Owen was never allowed to address the mayor and councilors in executive session to address the charges against her. She was told to turn in her keys and leave the building. She received no severance pay. It appears there is something highly irregular going on with this matter and it deserves the light of day with the public.
What is going on in city government when the media gets kicked out of a public building - escorted out by the Police? The actions today seem to indicate irrational decision-making and abuse of authority. Any media that calls itself a watchdog seems to be asleep at the switch and owes it to the public to wake up and shine a light on this.
Nothing about this latest firing makes sense to me from what I have been told so far. You can agree or disagree with how well the administration got along with the city council's chief of staff. But for the mayor and his administration to play a major role in the firing of an employee they do not supervise, or have authority over is highly irregular.