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Local News

March 9, 2014

Waurika City Commissioners reinstate Brown

WAURIKA — Chuck Brown was somewhat surprised early last week when the Waurika City Commissioners voted to terminate him from the position of city manager.

Brown was very surprised four days later to learn he had been “un-terminated” and restored to the city manager position.

That was the case at a special meeting Thursday afternoon, when the Waurika Commissioners voted unanimously to rescind their previous vote on Brown’s termination. Instead, they voted to keep Brown in the city manager position and to place him on indefinite administrative leave.

Following a 46-minute executive session at Waurika City Hall, the four commissioners returned to open session and took action on a motion by Commissioner Gayle Johnson. The motion was to “rescind the action of the City Commission taken on March 3, 2014, terminating the city manager’s employment.”

The motion said that rescinding the previous action “shall not be deemed a new contract of employment nor an extension of any contract of employment, and shall not be deemed as granting or extending any property rights to Chuck Brown.”

It concluded by noting that Brown was placed on administrative leave with full pay and benefits pending further action by the Commissioners.

After a second by Vice Mayor Carole Eakin, Johnson and Eakin joined Mayor Jim Bernard and Commissioner Bill Everett in a 4-0 vote to approve rescinding the precious action.

There were two other agenda items linked to the city manager situation. One was to discuss and possibly take action on creating a help wanted advertisement seeking candidates for the position of Waurika City Manager.

The other item was to discuss and possibly take action on hiring an interim city manager.

No action was taken on either item at Thursday’s special meeting.

Contacted by the Waurika News-Democrat on Friday, Brown said he had been surprised to be terminated during the meeting on March 3. He thought the agenda item pertaining to his job status was an annual job performance review tied to renewing or not renewing his contract with the city.

Instead, the commissioners — who also serve as trustees of the Waurika Public Works Authority — voted unanimously to immediately terminate Brown from the position he had held for nearly seven years.

Asked about Thursday’s reversal by the commissioners and WPWA trustees, Brown said, “I’m surprised they rescinded (his termination). I’ve never heard of that before.”

“But,” Brown added, “they’re still going to fire me.”

Pending the possibility of future legal action, Brown refused to further discuss the situation.

Asked by the News-Democrat what prompted the change in Brown’s job status, Mayor Jim Bernard said, “On advice of legal counsel, I have no comment.”

City Attorney Richard Cochran also declined to comment.

On Friday, a notice was posted at Waurika City Hall, announcing there will be a special meeting at noon Monday, in the commission chambers.

At that meeting, the commissioners and WPWA trustees will go into executive session to discuss the possible employment of an acting city manager or assistant city manager. The notice of executive session notes that “several individuals may be discussed” during the closed-door meeting.

Following the executive session, the commissioners resume the opening meeting, during which they could take action to appoint or hire an acting city manager or assistant city manager.

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