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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Embattled Cherokee leader calling it quits

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Cherokee city administrator Ron Strickland presented his resignation, effective immediately, at the conclusion of an hour and a half closed session at the Cherokee City Council meeting last week.

About a dozen people returned to the council chambers from their wait outside of city hall as the council came back into open session. A motion was made that Strickland's resignation should be accepted with details of a modified severance agreement to be worked out between the attorney for the city and the attorney for Strickland, details to be made known at a later council meeting in open session.

The motion was approved on a vote of four to one. Ron Johnson cast the one negative vote.

Ron Strickland began duties as city administrator on may 1, 2003 with a base salary of $55,000. Significant increases in salary were approved in February of 2004. Strickland's base salary went to $63,000 per year, with another increase of $4,000 on January 1. In addition, Strickland received cost of living adjustments (COLA) on July 1 of each year.

A part of the contract that came under heavy criticism by citizens in 2004 was a severance package of a lump sum payment equivalent to six months pay plus six months insurance in the event of involuntary termination of employment.

The fact that a modified severance package was a subject of negotiations indicates that the resignation was not voluntary.

Strickland has come under fire for the city council's decision about compensation, for Strickland's proposal to eliminate fire department positions and for his termination in March of the deputy city clerk, Diane Cargin, an appointee of the council.

At a March 28 city council meeting, Mick Mallory made a motion that Ron Strickland, city administrator, "be terminated from employment tonight." The motion died for a lack of a second. The city council passed a motion at the March 28 meeting that Wally Miller, Jr., the city attorney, conduct research prior to the next council meeting, apparently as discussed in closed session.

At the April 11 city council meeting, the city council went into closed session, at the request of Cargin, to discuss Cargin's termination. Following the closed session, the city council voted 4 to 1 to affirm the termination. Mallory was the only dissenting vote on that motion. Mallory called it a shame that the matter should be brought to a vote by the council and criticized the original handling of the termination informally over the phone. Mallory suggested that the city administrator, mayor and city attorney all resign for misinforming the council.

The Cherokee City Council also went into closed session during a special meeting on April 17 for evaluation of Strickland as city administrator. After about an hour, the council came back into open session and voted to continue closed session discussions at the next regularly scheduled council meeting on April 25.

After the motion to accept Strickland's resignation on Tuesday, Mallory asked that consideration of rehiring Cargin be put on the agenda for the next council meeting.

The council went back into closed session to discuss Cargin's grievance of her termination.

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