Craig City Manager formally terminated during special meeting

Craig City Manager Mike Foreman poses at his desk in April.
Lauren Blair/file

CRAIG — In a special meeting Monday, the Craig City Council formally voted to terminate the employment of City Manager Mike Foreman.

The meeting was called last week after council determined to terminate Foreman by “consensus” during executive session, violating Colorado’s Open Meetings Law.

“At that meeting and during negotiations with Mr. Foreman, it became apparent that immediate separation was in the best interest for the city of Craig,” said Mayor John Ponikvar. “Subsequently, Mr. Foreman has been on paid leave-of-absence since that time.”

“Council felt some action was required and needed to be taken,” Ponikvar added. He outlined the three options discussed: a letter of reprimand, contract modifications and termination.

The mayor then accepted motions to move forward with one of those actions.

Councilman Jarrod Ogden moved to terminate Foreman’s employment. Councilwoman Andrea Camp seconded the motion. The motion passed 6 to 1, with Councilman Chris Nichols as the lone dissenter.

About 25 people gathered in council chambers to watch the vote, and a handful clustered outside the doors of the chamber. Before City Council voted on the matter, each member explained the reason behind his or her vote.

“I’m a firm believer in progressive discipline process,” Nichols said. “I think at this point, even though our city manager is held to a higher level of conduct, we’re premature in this termination. I felt very strongly that we should’ve entered into a reprimand situation and issued a final notice of conduct unbecoming.”

Nichols added that he felt other stipulations should’ve been added in reprimanding Foreman.

“That’s what I felt, and I still feel that way,” he said.

Camp said she had lost trust in Foreman’s “ability to represent the city of Craig.”

“I think we have to hold our city manager to a higher level of professionalism, and I just don’t feel that he was meeting that standard,” she said.

“To me, my decision wasn’t based on the details or what happened or what had we heard or what’s been going on for the last nine months,” Councilman Derek Duran said. “Whatever’s true or not true, would Mike have the ability to bounce back and gain trust and be efficient and know that this was behind him? Could he have been an asset to the city, or was he going to become more of a liability? That’s what I based my decision on.”

The search firm used to recruit Foreman, Strategic Government Resources, will be used to recruit a new city manager. The process has already begun, Ponikvar said.

Negotiations for Foreman’s severance package are ongoing.

Public comment was not included on Monday’s agenda, but shortly before the meeting adjourned, Councilman Tony Bohrer brought the subject up. Ponikvar said the council would hear comments on the matter during the council’s next regular meeting, set for Tuesday, March 27. Speakers will be limited to two to three minutes of time to comment, as during regular meetings.

Each council member echoed the sentiment that the decision to fire Foreman had not been made lightly.

“The hardest decisions we make are going to be criticized, but if we don’t make them, we’re criticized,” Bohrer said.

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