Monday, June 23, 2008

Update: Council Split on Hein's Future

Posted By on Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 8:54 PM

Whether Councilman Steve Leal has the votes to force out City Manager Mike Hein out remains to be seen.

As noted earlier, Leal today called for Hein's resignation.

Mayor Bob Walkup said today that he was behind Hein “110 percent.”

Hein also has solid support with Democratic council members Nina Trasoff and Rodney Glassman.

But his support remains weak among the other three Democratic council members. Shirley Scott, who was unavailable for comment today, has been upset with Hein over police salaries, while Regina Romero has been critical of the city manager over the progress of downtown redevelopment.

Ward 3 City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich may prove to be the swing vote. Last week, Uhlich was critical of Hein over a proposal to raise bus fares by a quarter. Uhlich said that Hein’s budget had reduced the general-fund subsidy for the bus service by about $4 million, which was the same amount of money that the fare increase was estimated to bring in.

Uhlich said today that she hadn’t made up her mind about Hein’s future.

“I think I’ve been clear about my frustration about getting very basic information that’s essential to making good policy decisions,” Uhlich said. “And that is a serious concern that needs to be addressed. Whether or not that means Mike has to go—I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

Uhlich says she wants to have a meeting next week to decide Hein’s future “in as professional and orderly way as possible.”

Hein is on vacation and unavailable for comment, although one council aide said today that the city manager would be cutting his break short and returning to Tucson to meet with council members.

Walkup defended Hein’s job performance, saying the city manager had done a good job of working cooperatively with Pima County since he was appointed to the job in 2005.

“As a result of that, we’ve moved forward on more regional initiatives that are of great benefit to the community,” Walkup says. “I absolutely believe in Mike and what he has done. We need to shore up a couple of things, but in my opinion, every one of the things that council members have mentioned is fixable by sitting down and talking about it and implementing corrective action.”

Trasoff, who was elected alongside Uhlich in 2005, also praised Hein’s management of the city. She added that “there are communication issues that need to be worked through, but I am extremely hopeful that can be done.”

The call for Hein’s ouster comes as the city is facing a tough budget year. Sales tax revenues are below projections, state budget funds could still be cut and a slowing housing market has stalled many downtown revitalization projects.

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