Nome City Manager Moran, gives his 30-day notice
After the Council came out of a three-hour executive session on personnel Monday evening, City Manager Tom Moran gave the panel his 30-day notice of resignation.
Councilmen Jerald Brown and Mark Johnson, openly critical of Moran’s performance of late, requested the special council meeting, giving the tip-off that the meeting would concern Moran. City law allows two Council members or the mayor to call special meetings with a three-day public notice.
“We had a long, hard, three-hour discussion, but I do understand that we have a new police chief on staff and in town. We have made mistakes in the organization; I think it is time we had new leadership,” Moran said. “When I signed my extension, it contained a 30-day notice clause, saying that I or the City could give the other a 30-day notice and go our separate ways, so effective tonight, when I go upstairs after this meeting, I will in writing send each of you a copy of my resignation letter, effective 30 days from tonight.”
The City has hired Robert Estes as Nome Police Department chief to take John Papasodora’s place. He and Papasodora are working on orientation currently. Papasodora also attended the executive session; however, the Council had no official action with his name on it.
The Council unanimously passed a motion accepting Moran’s resignation.
The full six-member Council attended, including Adam Martinson, who called in by phone.
Moran held the city manager position for three-and-a-half years, with his latest full contract expiring Sept. 15, at which time he said he desired to leave, but then discovered he had to give 90-day notice that he would not renew his contract.
As Nome Police Chief John Papasodora had decided he would not extend his contract expiring Oct. 5, and due to an upheaval in City politics that ostensibly began in May with a sex assault support group taking a stand that assaults had gone without response and investigation, Moran agreed in an executive session with Council to stay on for six months, but no longer, he said.
The Council at the Aug. 27 meeting approved that short contract that contained an expiration date of March 14, 2019 at a prorated annual salary of $105,000. At the signing of that contract Aug. 27, the Council ordered Moran to begin looking for a new city manager immediately and have John Handeland collect the applications for Council screening.
Effective Sept. 11, a brief ad on the website of the International City Management Assn. lists the job at an annual salary of $95,000 to $110,000, depending on experience. Another ad on the Alaska Municipal League website listed the job without a salary, but with a long list of duties, looking for applicants with BA degrees and preferably a master’s degree, and five years’ experience.This website directed applicants to submit applications to John K. Handeland at the City Hall address.
Mayor Richard Beneville said Monday night that Handeland would continue to collect the applications. Additionally he verified that Moran would continue to receive his salary per the amended employment agreement. There will be no severance package for Moran, both he and Brown explained, as the contract amendment states that each side can give 30 days notice and if the other side accepts, that is it. Meanwhile, the Council will identify a temporary city manager either locally or through Alaska Municipal League to fill the gap pending the hire of a new manager, Brown said.
“I was not long for this contract anyway. The only reason I decided to extend was to stay until we had the new police chief up to speed and we had identified a new city manager. I am very thankful to the City of Nome for almost seven years of employment—three-and-a-half as city clerk and almost three-and-a-half as city manager after it is all said and done. I think it is time for change; there are a lot of things people might speculate were done on my watch,” Moran told Radio KNOM. “I want to go on record saying there was no police conspiracy; I will miss Chief John Papasodora, I think he did a good job. I think Bob Estes coming in with a new city manager might help the public confidence in the police department and that the City of Nome has the best going for it.”
Going into the meeting, Moran said, he had a “strong suspicion this would be our mutual decision.”
As for the new city manager: “Mind your Ps and Qs; it’s an ugly time and we’re going through some dark days, but there is a silver lining and we can be better for it.”
“You really have to live this job 24/7,” Moran said.