Broken Arrow takes steps toward firing city manager
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
4/17/12 at 11:18 PM
BROKEN ARROW — The City Council voted to begin discussions about firing City Manager David Wooden and to place him on administrative leave Tuesday night.
The council made the 5-0 decision following a 45-minute closed executive session with City Attorney Beth Anne Wilkening and Russell Gale, director of human resources.
Wooden was not present.
The decision comes after weeks of wrestling with the issue of Wooden’s contract and criticism from a neighborhood group that is upset over the city’s handling of an Indian casino that is being built in southwest Broken Arrow.
Members of Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming have been critical of Wooden and other city officials for not informing residents of the Kialegee Tribal Town’s plans to build a casino when the officials learned of the plans months before they became public.
City officials have said they weren’t sure the casino would actually materialize.
Wooden has said previously that the casino issue has been misunderstood.
“As a result of that, they feel I’m responsible, and there’s nothing I can do to change their opinion,” he said.
Wooden has also stated previously that he never intended to stay in the city manager’s position on a long-term basis.
The council directed Wilkening to initiate discussions with Wooden regarding the termination of his contract, which expires in December. He is paid $140,000 a year.
Wooden’s administrative leave is effective beginning at noon Wednesday.
Wilkening had no comment.
Before the executive session, the council directed staff members to recommend a management consulting firm to assist the city in hiring a new city manager.
Gale said the city has used management consultant firms in its selection of department directors since 2007.
He said this will cost about $25,000, not including travel expenses.
The city had retained a firm in 2009 when it was searching for a city manager with a compensation package that was expected to be more than $200,000.
The council opted to hire Wooden, who was the assistant city manager at the time and the city engineer before that. They did not refill the assistant city manager’s position.
Wooden succeeded former City Manager Jim Twombly, who was fired in June 2009.
The city cited a need for a “different direction,” and Twombly was paid a year’s salary of $124,384 as part of the agreement.
Twombly was named Tulsa’s city manager last April.
Broken Arrow City Manager David Wooden speaks during a city council meeting on April 3. He was not at tonight's meeting, when the City Council voted to place him on administrative leave and begin discussions about terminating his contract. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World