City leaders respond to Letcher resignation, Letcher defends memo

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The day before some members of the Tucson city council would move to fire him, Tucson City Manager Mike Letcher resigned.  But says he won't leave for a year.

In a 6-page memorandum that bordered on being vindictive, Letcher admitted a few problems with his management, but spent most of the time ridiculing his critics.

Mike Letcher has been walking in and out of City Hall as city manager for just over 2 years.  That after his predecessor was fired by council members in 2009.

The memo Tuesday may have been a last ditch attempt to avoid facing the same fate Wednesday.

But even with the tough talk memo, it may be too late for him to save his job.

"At this point it's really in God's hands," said Mike Letcher.

A higher power may not be enough to save City Manager Mike Letcher's job.

"I'm always trying to do my best and I'll continue that if I'm allowed to," said Letcher.

Tuesday Letcher dropped a bomb of a memo to mayor and council.

In it he announced his resignation, effective one year from now, in August of 2012.

"I don't want to go through the next 12 months what we just went through the previous 12 months," said Councilman Steve Kozachik.

The memo highlighted his accomplishments, but also detailed problems he faced with the 911 call center and the city's parking program.

"It's a tough time for Mike Letcher," said Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup. "He's been a good guy.  Very professional."

"I've done my best here, and I can't do anymore and it's up to the council on Wednesday if they want to keep me or terminate me and pay me provisions under my contract," said Letcher.

The memo went a step further, unleashing sharp criticism of council member Steve Kozachik.

"He's acting like an injured animal who's lashing out.  I understand that, but it's inappropriate. He's the CEO of a large organization," said Councilman Kozachik.

"I don't have anything against council member Kozachik but I think the public needed to know some of those issues and I said those issues," said Letcher.

Letcher noted private text message exchanges between him and Kozachik in the memo, pointing to them as evidence that Kozachik overstepped his bounds in dealing with the 911 call center.

Mayor Bob Walkup says going public with that was a mistake.

"He has to be able to take criticism form the council and do his job," said Walkup.  "But at this moment he couldn't let one more shot across the bow go by.  That's not appropriate.  And I'll bet you he'll say that's not what city managers do, criticize their elected officials."

Wednesday might be a case of déjà vu,

Two years ago council members met behind closed doors, only to terminate former City Manager Mike Hein afterward. Now we wait to see if Mike Letcher will follow in his footsteps.

"To ask for another year after you call out your own employees, you call out city staff, you call out a council member.  Then you say, 'Let's do it for a year.' I don't think so," said Kozachik.

While Councilman Kozachik is the only member to publicly indicate his position on the future of Letcher's job, sources indicate there are enough votes on the council to oust Letcher if that's something the city wants to do.

Ousting Letcher would cost the city $150,000 in severance pay and that may not be something the city wants to do.