Moses Lake City Council votes to fire City Manager - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Moses Lake City Council votes to fire City Manager

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Joe Gavinski during Tuesday night's termination hearing Joe Gavinski during Tuesday night's termination hearing
MOSES LAKE, Wash. -

Tuesday evening the Moses Lake City Council voted to fire city manager Joe Gavisnki. The final tally was 4 votes for termination, 3 votes against. Among those against the vote, Council member Jon Lane, Council member Karen Liebrecht and Mayor Dick Deane. Mayor Deane says he was shocked by the vote, saying "we got blindsided."

But council member Bill Ecret, who presented the resolution for termination, says he's surprised by their surprise. He says this has been a longtime coming, citing minutes from a meeting back in December of 2014 in which they discussed Gavinski's possible retirement and the need to fill his position.

But the resolution presented didn't mention Gavinski's possible retirement. Instead it states that the council "lost its trust and confidence in the city manager's ability to carry out his duties in a manner satisfactory to the city council." When KHQ asked Mr. Ecret why the council lost confidence in Mr. Gavinski's abilities Ecret said, "the resolution speaks for itself. We'll speak to the why in the near future. But at this time that's the only comment we'll be giving."

Mayor Dick Deane expressed his frustration with the council's decision during Tuesday night's meeting. “I've been involved with the city for 15 years on the park and rec (commission), 12 years now on the city council, and this is the absolute lowest moment I've ever seen in our city,” Deane said. "This is about the epitome of no direction, no self-thought about human decency and total power domination by a certain few. I'm embarrassed to be part of this. I'm disappointed in council members that would choose to do this behind the back of other council members. Our city council members are voted into positions to represent our citizens and they have not been involved in any of this. I think that this is anarchy at its highest level."

Again, council member Bill Ecret says all decisions were made in open meetings. No one went behind anyone's back, he says.

Gavinski began working for Moses Lake as the city's attorney, and became the city manager more than 30 years ago. He is responsible for overseeing the budget, personnel and other administrative oversight in the city.

Gavinski's termination is set for 30 days from Tuesday. The council also voted to suspend him from the position for that entire 30-day period. Gilbert Alvarado will fill in as the interim city manager during that time. The city council is expected to meet sometime next week to discuss a search for a new city manager.

KHQ reached out to Mr. Gavinski and Mr. Alvarado, but they were unavailable for comment.

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