Kalamazoo City Manager Apologizes At Commission Meeting
Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema was apologetic at Monday nights commission meeting for not disclosing a real reason on the departure of former Chief Karianne Thomas in September.
According to News 8 the contract for Thomas was terminated without cause but she still received a year of her final salary of $150,000 as severance pay. No clear reason for her leaving was given at the time although a retirement suggestion was emphasized in the statement released to the public.
Here is Kalamazoo City Manager's reaction from Monday night:
“When my team and I developed a message regarding Chief Thomas’ departure, our and my goal was to not harm Chief Thomas’ reputation. Her departure was not a punishment,” Ritsema said. I also wanted to ensure a smooth transition to the new chief Vernon Coakley. While factually correct, the press release and my discussions with commissioners did not mention the termination of the employment agreement. I take full responsibility for this and offer my apology.” - WOOD TV
Ritsema said he felt the former chief's ability to lead was compromised after racial inequity protests over the summer had happened. Ritsema also acknowledged the city commission was put in a difficult spot by his actions.
“There was no intent to deceive or withhold information. This was difficult and complicated personnel issue that I had to handle. The commission had no part in this decision. While including this information would not have changed the result, it is clear to me my failure to include this information has created a difficult situation for the commission,” Ritsema said. - WOOD TV
The commission voted on a motion shortly after Ritsema's statements accepting the City Manager's apology that passed 5-2.