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Former Auburn dept. head left city in part due to council

POSTED: July 6, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Stanley Dunlap/Barrow County News

Former Auburn Parks & Leisure Director Rafael Avalos.

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The latest Auburn department head to resign stated in his exit interview that problems with the city council played a role in him leaving.

In a June 25 exit interview former Parks & Leisure Director Rafael Avalos stated he resigned because he felt he would forced out of his position. Several city council members said at Thursday’s City Council meeting it was the first time they heard what he wrote in the interview.

Avalos’ resignation follows the January resignation of the Auburn Police Chief Paul Nadeau. Several sources stated that Nadeau would have been fired because of an attempt by some council members to have more control.

Avalos wrote that the most frustrating part about the job was not having freedom in planning and working on events and programming. He also stated that having five opposing views from the city council made it difficult.

Avalos’ last day was June 19. He had served as head of Parks & Leisure since March 2012.

"Some council members were more vocal and aggressive, and forced their needs above others," Avalos wrote in his personnel file received by the Barrow County News through an open records request.

Councilman Bob Vogel said the first time hearing about what Avalos wrote in his exit interview was Thursday when questioned about it by the Barrow County News. He said it was untrue that the entire department would go back under the control of Public Works, and that the plan is to just move the maintenance portion under the department.

Councilwoman Peggy Langley also said she was surprised at what was in the exit interview.

"Honestly this is the first time I’ve heard about and I had no idea he felt that way," she said.

Avalos also wrote he left because he did not want his personnel record tarnished. He stated that he didn’t expect anything to change when asked if anything could be done to prevent him from leaving.

"It was made clear that Parks & Leisure was not a necessary department," he wrote.

Councilwoman Dorissa Shackelford said she understands why Avalos wrote what he did and doesn’t blame him for making the statements. At last month’s meeting she said she preferred the Parks & Leisure Department to remain independent.

Since Avalos’ resignation Public Works Administrative Assistant Charlotte Ewing has been designated to handle event planning while the Public Works also handles maintenance of parks.

Nadeau’s exit interview in January contained some similar sentiments as Avalos’ interview. He stated "several key factors" would depend if he would return to the department, and, like Avalos, wrote he would not recommend to a friend that it was a good place to work.

At the time of Nadeau’s resignation several sources said it was not based on performance, but an attempt by Vogel and Langley to exert power.

Vogel declined to comment in the wake of Nadeau’s resignation while Langley denied any rumors of there being a power play.

Councilman Bill Ackworth, who joined the council this year, said last week he was surprised when he heard about Avalos’ resignation because it came out the blue. He said he never heard any discussion about Avalos’ position prior to learning about Avalos’ plans to leave.

Avalos also worked for Auburn as a senior customer service representative and city clerk. He was credited with helping with IT work, creating the Auburn Messenger, coordinating events and for being an "IT geek" that handled various problems with technology.

"Overall Rafael is known by all of us as being a good friend," Mayor Linda Blechinger said at the June 19 meeting. "You’re going to be missed, but I wish you the best."

 

COMMENTS

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1 comment
Nic30: July 12, 2014 12:03 p.m.

The City of Auburn has a long storied history that started with the abolition of the Police Department a few years back. If any community deserves to have it's City Charter yanked by the State, it is this group.



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