June 27, 2013

Owasso city manager quits, ending suspension

June 27, 2013 Associated Press

OWASSO, Okla. (AP) — Owasso's embattled city manager has resigned, saying he wants to prevent "further adverse publicity" for the Tulsa suburb.

Rodney Ray, 66, reached an agreement with Owasso officials Tuesday that includes a more than $185,000 severance package. His resignation takes effect Monday, ending a suspension that started May 24.

Ray in April ordered police to delete video showing a traffic stop involving a vice mayor being investigated for driving under the influence. The vice mayor was not charged after police drove him home. Ray also had been charged with writing a bad check and faced an undisclosed employee complaint, according to the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/11NdBtj).

Council members met behind closed doors for 54 minutes Tuesday, then emerged to approve the severance package by a 4-1 vote.

"It's good for Owasso to move on, clear and simple," council member Charlie Brown said.

Mayor Doug Bonebrake said he couldn't discuss what a city investigation had found.

"We just feel like this was the best solution after given all the information that was given to us," he told the newspaper.

The mayor said Ray had approached the city seeking the buyout to "avoid further adverse publicity." The newspaper said Ray declined to be interviewed.

"There are some things you gain out of negotiating things like this, mainly for the protection of the city," Bonebrake said after the meeting. "... Whenever you go into the direction of termination, we live in a world of being constantly worried about litigation. In this particular case, we were trying to do everything we could to avoid that."

The Tulsa World last month obtained a video of the vice mayor's traffic stop, though City Attorney Julie Lombardi initially said it no longer existed. She said the video had been purged as allowed by police policy, but a police supervisor had made a copy.

The council named former Assistant City Manager Warren Lehr acting city manager.

 

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