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Sun, Jan. 19

Council releases composite evaluation
Complete copies of Beecher’s performance review not made available

KINGMAN - It was the first time in Paul Beecher's career and the first time in Kingman history - as far back, at least, as the mayor could recall, that an official's personnel records were made public, but with a 6-1 vote Monday City Council moved to release the performance evaluation of the city manager.

"I agree with the mayor to an extent," Beecher said, referring to Les Byram's reluctance to release the evaluation because it deals with personnel issues, "but I see no harm in releasing the composite."

Beecher said he'd never done this before, "but then again, there's never been this kind of concern about my performance," he said.

In the last several months, and continuing Monday, many in the community had called for Beecher's termination.

Not all Council members were enthusiastic about releasing the evaluation, which was a composite created after the actual review based on sentiments of each Council member at the time.

Councilman Tom Carter said that regardless of his personal feelings on the issue, he was reluctant to release the evaluation because he hadn't seen it. Although the mayor thought they were placed in each Council member's mailbox at city hall, none of them, it turned out, had actually received the document before the meeting. City Clerk Debbie Francis left the room following Carter's comment and returned minutes later with copies.

The vote to release the evaluation still falls short of the demands in a records request filed by the Miner - the request that spawned the discussion Monday.

On June 13, the Miner submitted a public records request for "any and all documents concerning the performance of Paul Beecher, including but not limited to the evaluations by all Kingman City Council members filled out prior to the executive session meeting of June 8, 2007."

According to the mayor and several on Council, each member had at least two weeks to fill out an 11-page evaluation on the city manager's annual performance, including his strengths and weaknesses, before his closed-session review in June.

The composite evaluation was an amalgamation of the individual one's created outside of the executive session and discussions during the meeting.

The Miner made the request on the public's behalf, as many in the community were considering filing a recall petition on all or a majority of Council members because of their decision to keep Beecher.

The individual evaluations, which are public records, according to several media law attorneys, would show which Council members favored keeping Beecher on board and who did not.

Councilman Kerry Deering, upon reviewing the composite for the first time, noted how there were no comments on this version.

"The sad thing about this, without comments it's just like a report card, A, B, C's, whatever, and there's nothing to justify why you got a B or a C or an A or whatever," he said.

Councilwoman Janet Watson cast the sole dissenting vote Monday because she did not agree with all aspects of the motion.

Releasing the document to the public was only one portion.

The motion, made by Councilman Ray Lyons, also included a statement to have the city manager continue in his position at his current salary, $149,148.

Cooper had recommended voting in public to keep Beecher, as the original decision was made in a closed-door meeting.

Byram said he didn't totally agree with the recommendation, but because the attorney with the Arizona League of Cities and Towns considered Council's "consensus" a gray area, Cooper encouraged the mayor to make Beecher's employment public.

Byram agreed because he wanted to avoid a prolonged and costly lawsuit if someone were to challenge the city's decision, as it is illegal to make any decisions in executive session.

The evaluation, according to Deputy Clerk Jenna Marshal, will be available to the public this morning.

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