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Tu-Uyen Tran, Forum News Service, Published August 14 2013

Crookston fires city administrator after squabbles with council

CROOKSTON, Minn. - Crookston’s city administrator, Tony Chladek, was fired by the City Council Monday, primarily because of disagreements with some council members, according to Mayor Dave Genereux.

The council voted 6-1 with one abstention Monday night to immediately end Chladek’s employment with the city.

“It’s an issue that’s been going on for six months, Genereux said. “Basically, there’s just a different style of management that Mr. Chladek had that didn’t go along with some of the councilmen and it just came to a head.”

Genereux said he liked Chladek just fine. “Tony was a good employee for the city. He did a relatively good job.” The mayor said Chladek also had a “very good working relationship” with city employees.

Chladek was hired by the council in February 2012. He’ll be replaced in the interim by Public Works Director Pat Kelly, who said he himself would not apply for the job.

Genereux said he expects the council will discuss the job description in the coming weeks and advertise the job after that, aiming mostly in Minnesota and the Grand Forks region. A replacement could start working at the city by December or January, he said.

Different style

Chladek had survived the council’s no-confidence vote in April, but council member Dana Johnson, said it was something more recent that caused the majority of the council to turn against him, she among them. “There were some things the public was not aware of that I won’t elaborate on that were grounds for dismissal in last month.”

Johnson, who seconded the motion to dismiss Chladek, said she didn’t want to get into specifics and referred further questions to Genereux.

The mayor said he didn’t want to get into specifics either.

Genereux said it was a difficult situation for Chladek because the council was divided on many issues and the city administrator had to ride the fence. “He tried to please everybody. He tried to provide the information but he tried to do it in a legal fashion. Some people may think that he wasn’t providing the information, but that wasn’t really true.” The mayor added that that was simply his personal opinion.

Chladek did not have a listed phone number and could not be reached. He did email the Crookston Daily Times after his dismissal to say that he had followed all the parameters of his job description, including most of the “must do” items on the council’s strategic priorities list. These include, for example, developing various downtown properties, adding housing and working toward federal certification of the city’s flood control project.