Archive for Thursday, July 22, 2004

Fired city employee files appeal

July 22, 2004

Basehor city codes administrator Mike Hooper -- for years a vocal leader in the Basehor city administration and de factor city manager -- was fired from his post last week.

In an interview, Hooper discussed aspects of his dismissal. Basehor city officials have not commented.

City administrator David Fuqua said employee privacy laws prohibit him from discussing the matter. He could not confirm Hooper was fired, saying only that he is no longer a municipal employee.

Hooper, who in November would have marked his fifth year as a city employee, said his dismissal came as a shock, as did the events leading up to it.

"There is nothing in my personnel file," Hooper said. "There are no reprimands or complaints or anything. How can you be somebody who does their job one day and gets fired the next? How can that happen and you not know why?"

On Wednesday, July 14, Hooper said Fuqua read him a written statement indicating that he "hadn't performed his managerial duties in a professional manner as expected." Fuqua then informed Hooper of his option: resigning with two-weeks severance pay as compensation or be fired, Hooper said.

Hooper requested and received a day to consider his options. A meeting was scheduled for the following day -- Thursday, July 15. Thursday morning Hooper asked if the written statement would stand as the only reason for the end of his tenure.

Fuqua told Hooper that it would, Hooper said.

"Based on that, I saw no reason to resign," Hooper said.

After the meeting, Hooper cleared out his office. A Basehor police officer was ordered to wait on stand-by in case Hooper had to be escorted from City Hall.

Hooper said he doesn't know who initiated the steps to end his employment. He said he has some idea but chose to reserve comments at this time.

He appealed the city's decision Monday, July 19.

The City Council voted in 1999 to hire Hooper. Fuqua said no recent City Council vote has taken place regarding Hooper's employment status.

Basehor city attorney John Thompson said there would be a City Council vote on Monday, July 26 -- the next regularly scheduled meeting -- concerning the matter.

Actions of the city regarding an employee, whether it's to hire or fire, must be approved by the City Council, Thompson said.

Two items were listed on the City Council's agenda Monday night concerning Hooper's employment. The City Council will vote to accept the termination and decide on the request for a hearing regarding the termination, city officials said.

Before the city hired Hooper, Basehor government employed a part-time codes inspector and used Leavenworth County officials for code enforcement, inspections and planning.

Chris Garcia, a mayoral candidate in this year's election and a member of the City Council in 1999, said Hooper brought consistency to the codes department and helped modernize that office.

In his tenure, Hooper also helped usher in a 9-cents per square foot excise tax, a neighborhood revitalization plan and oversaw the Basehor Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.

He worked on short- and long-range planning and public works projects, in addition to his day-to-day responsibilities.

Many of those duties were before the city hired its first city administrator in March and were outside the realm of Hooper's job description.

Fuqua said that Angela Solberg, an assistant city planner, would assume some of Hooper's former responsibilities.

Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer said there has been no decision made on whether the city would hire a new codes administrator.

"At this point in time Angie will be filling in the position until a future decision is made," Scherer said.

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