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Thu, Jan. 23

Councilwoman casts sole dissenting vote
Watson says no to retaining City Manager Paul Beecher

KINGMAN - Residents in the community considering a recall of the entire City Council can cross off one name from their list following a public vote Monday to keep the embattled city manager in his position.

Councilwoman Janet Watson cast the sole dissenting vote Monday on a motion to keep Paul Beecher.

"I would just say, as far as I'm concerned, going through the evaluation process and assessing all the responsibilities of the city manager, his performance did not meet expectations," she said Thursday.

A copy of the composite evaluation released Tuesday showed that Beecher received 13 marks for meeting expectations in various categories, eight for "almost always" meeting them, one mark for exceeding and three marks for not meeting expectations.

Watson said she did not support all aspects of the motion, which included releasing a composite evaluation on Beecher, so it was unclear which part she opposed.

"I had no reservations about the second part of the motion, and you may remember I had asked Mr. Beecher if he had any reservations about releasing the information, and he said no. So it was not the second part of the motion that I objected to," Watson said. "The first part of the motion I could not support."

She had asked that the two issues be voted on separately, but Councilman Ray Lyons combined them when making the motion.

On June 8, Council members ended a three-hour executive session performance review of the city manager and announced that, "it is the consensus of this Council that the city manager will continue his position" and at his current salary of $149,148.

Several residents were quick to criticize how Council arrived at the "consensus" and the decision itself. Beecher had been the target of much criticism and there had been repeated calls for his ouster leading up to his June 8 evaluation. Also, to some it appeared to be a possible violation of Arizona public meetings laws to come to a consensus in executive session.

Two weeks after the review, Realtors, members of Residents Against Irresponsible Development, local developers and business owners met to voice their frustrations over the Council for keeping the city manager on board. They discussed, among other possible courses of action, filing a recall petition against all of Council for supporting Beecher.

Since last week, when the mayor blamed RAID and the Miner for a section of state land not selling - a major stall to the Kingman Crossing retail mall project - a couple critics have brought the recall issue back to the table.

Local businessman Scott Dunton said last week that it still may be a possible course of action.

Now, however, Watson appears to have secured her seat on Council, at least in the eyes of the critics.

Because Council legally could not give details about the executive session "consensus," the public, until this week, did not know who was for and who was against keeping Beecher.

On Monday, the critics learned who they could cut from their recall list when City Attorney Carl Cooper recommended that Council vote in public to quell the unrest over the "consensus" made during the closed-door meeting - a decision several attorneys have since considered a "gray area" of the law.

At the end of the meeting Monday, Watson again found herself in the minority during the announcements portion of the meeting.

After Beecher addressed a letter to the editor in the Miner regarding Kingman Crossing, Watson asked for an update on the Tri-City meeting held last week. Councilman Tom Spear said he wanted to add to the debate touched on by Beecher.

Watson objected, stating that she would leave if the meeting segued into a discussion that was not on the agenda.

"We began to go beyond the scope of that, so when I raised that issue and said, 'you know, I don't think this is appropriate,' it continued on, and I said at the time, 'if this continues I'm leaving,' so I left."

Although she has stood on the opposite side of the majority over several issues in recent months, Watson did not express angst in the difference of opinions.

Each member of Council is elected by the people to represent the community's interests, she said, not the interests of the individual elected. Everybody has his or her own idea of what is best for the residents of Kingman, "and you know what," she said, "I think I did the best I could."

"When all is said and done, the only person that you truly have to answer to is that person that looks back at you in the mirror," Watson said, reciting a favorite quote.

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