Letcher resigns as Tucson city manager

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Embattled Tucson City Manager Mike Letcher emailed a scathing 6-page memorandum to city leaders Tuesday saying he planned to step down from the post in August, 2012.  He may not last that long.

As Fox 11 News first reported Friday, there will be an attempt at Wednesday's city council meeting to terminate him in light of a series of management missteps in the city recently.

The latest involves Parkwise, the city department overseeing parking regulations, meters and enforcement.  An audit shows thousands of dollars missing and a lack of oversight on money collections and management.  Earlier in 2011 Letcher was criticized for how he handled the installation of a new 911 call system that ended up dropping calls and potentially caused the death of a 10-year old girl. 

Letcher was saying publicly all was fine, while telling people behind the scenes not to talk about the problems.  A city employee was terminated after he was caught copying documents which illustrated the problem.

In his Tuesday memo, Letcher said, "I cannot change the current political and media climate in this community that focus more on blame than resolution.  I know now that I can only go so far in changing the organizational climate of the city that has not seen consistent city management since Joel Valdez." 

The lengthy memo gives a time line on events on the major recent incidents.

As he discusses his timeline and defense in the 911 Communications Center investigation, Letcher accuses City Council Member Steve Kozachik of "interfering and intimidating" his investigation.  Letcher says he believes it's possible Kozachik violated the City Charter with his actions."

"The most troubling concern about the Ward 6 Councilmember's involvement in this issue was that he was focused primarily on eliminating furloughs for dispatchers and coordinating his own media coverage.  He was not focused on resolving the issues or offering long-term solutions."

Kozachik, in an e-mail to Fox 11 News, responded saying the City Charter cites the powers and duties of the City Manager to be "subject to the control of the mayor and council".

Kozachik also said, "Perhaps Mr. Letcher should understand that he is accountable to us, not the reverse.  It's unfortunate that he seems to have made this a personal issue, when in fact, all it is, and ever has been, is my trying to build transparency and accountability into how the City government operates."

In his memo, Letcher details specific communications, including email and text messages between him and Kozachik.

He also admits he should have terminated Parkwise director Chris Leighton in late 2010 rather than waiting for the results of an audit into problems with the department.  In August, Letcher moved Parkwise under control of the General Services department, but Leighton is still a city employee.

Letcher continues his vent in his letter by slamming the new "Governor-appointed Rio Nuevo Board".  Letcher says, "This board is more interested in political maneuvering, lawsuits and investigation then getting real work done downtown."

He also says, "If the Rio Nuevo Board was more effective downtown revitalization would have a true teammate in the game instead of one on the sidelines.  This is one of my hopes and prayers for this city that I have come to love and call home."

More on this story as it develops.