Auburn councilors find the votes to oust city manager Glenn Aho

AUBURN — City councilors Monday capped months of frustration and conflict with their city staff, voting to terminate City Manager Glenn Aho's contract.

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Glenn Aho

Councilors voted 5-1 to remove Aho from his post, effective 90 days from Monday, based on language from his employment agreement.

Aho left Auburn Hall immediately after the vote. Reached by phone later, he said his employment agreement does leave him a way to return to Auburn Hall. The agreement required councilors to place him on 90 days leave before he is officially terminated. Councilors elected in the Nov. 8 municipal election could vote to return him to the job, he said. Aho said that is something he would consider.

According to the agreement, Aho is due a severance package equal to six months' worth of salary and benefits if he is terminated without cause. Under Aho's current $109,000 salary, that amounts to $54,500 plus unused vacation and benefits.

Councilors will meet in an emergency session at 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss who will fill Aho's job in the interim.

Monday's vote came after two hour-long executive sessions. First, councilors conferred with the city attorney to discuss their legal obligations. They came out and voted to go into a second executive session to discuss Aho's employment agreement.

Councilor Mike Farrell, a supporter of Aho, said councilors have been building to Monday's decision for months. It became possible last month when Councilor-at-large Eric Samson was removed from office and replaced by Joe Gray, Farrell said.

Monday was Gray's first meeting as a councilor and he was the fifth vote needed to terminate Aho's contract. Councilors Belinda Gerry, Robert Hayes, Dan Herrick and Ray Berube also voted to terminate Aho.

Councilor David Young abstained from Monday's vote. When the motion to terminate Aho was first made, Farrell left his chair and moved to the audience, saying he did not want to be part of the vote. He did cast his vote from the audience, however — the sole nay vote.

Farrell blasted his council colleagues, saying they were so intent on firing Aho they did not think about what would happen next.

"What is the succession plan? Anybody?" Farrell asked. "This amounts to a witch hunt by the irrational."

Mayor Dick Gleason said the topics of who would replace Aho and how much his severance package would be were not discussed Monday. According to City Clerk Roberta Fogg, the City Charter names the assistant city manager as manager in this situation. However, the city does not currently have an assistant manager.

Gleason conferred with Fogg and police Chief Phil Crowell after Monday's meeting ended, then announced he was appointing Crowell acting interim manager for the day. He called a special emergency council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday to make a formal decision about Aho's interim replacement.

Aho came to Auburn in March 2008, leaving a job as Lincoln's town manager. He succeeded Pat Finnigan in the job. Finnigan left the city in February 2007 to take a position as assistant city manager in Portland.

Aho was initially paid a $103,000 salary. His current contract, through 2013, paid him $109,000 annually.

Aho, 41, was the Lincoln town manager for 13 years beginning in 1995. He grew up in Bridgewater, in Aroostook County, and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Maine at Presque Isle and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Maine. Before taking the job in Lincoln, he worked as an administrative assistant to the Brewer city manager.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

difficult

It is difficult being a town manager in Maine. I don't know if it is the political climate or what. However, a Town Manager works for the Council so the Council has the right to release him/her.

Larry T. Doughty's picture

Firing of Glen Aho

I'm very sorry to learn of Glenn's dilemma. Glenn worked for the City of Brewer, as our assistant manager, several years ago, and we missed his leaving at that time. Best to you Glenn.

 's picture

Take him back!!!

Take him back!!!

 's picture

Here is an opportunity

for the leaders of Auburn to step up to the plate and get involved in the process of selecting the next city manager.
Perhaps the correct decision was not executed well. The voters in Auburn need to remember these things on election day and choose wisely moving forward. 2012 is just around the corner. What a great opportunity to make great things happen!

Jason Theriault's picture

On behalf of the citizens of

On behalf of the citizens of Auburn, I want an explanation from the city council about the termination of Aho. I want to know why they put the citizen’s of Auburn on the hook for $54,500. Hopefully, there is a good reason for it, but we don’t know because of all these “executive sessions”. But with all the drama that has surrounded the council as of late, I have my doubts.

So I feel the council owes us an explanation. You can only hide in executive sessions until November.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

A question from Lisbon:

WHY was Aho fired? What specifically were the conflicts? Just askin'.

 's picture

Dan is leftist noise but.

Business 101, before butting the Axe to someone have a new plan to fly by. As far as the Jim Bennet, being a lewiston resident it was time for him to go.

 's picture

Was he

the deciding factor in the move of the Police station to city hall? Did you know that Auburn is still using the old building regularly? The move was to save money by closing an unneeded building. But you can see Police in the building every day.

Mark Elliott's picture

Dan is just out for his usual

Dan is just out for his usual midnight "troll" looking for an argument as usual.....best just to ignore him.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Dan, Ed Barrett is an

Dan, Ed Barrett is an excellent City Administrator. I haven't heard one peep against him, and I'm at City Hall most every week. As for when we let Jim Bennett go, I totally agreed with that decision. Not being a citizen of Auburn, I won't weigh in on the Aho firing as I'm not sufficiently informed to do so.

Dis missing Aho

What makes an ill in formed Mr.Breton believe that these folks are Right wing? he sounds like the Right Wing wacko!

dis missing AHO

The previous commentator implied that Lewiston's new mgr. is not doing sowell, that is the first ime that I've heard that!Aho's problems that are destroying staff's morale have been well documentated!I have complerte faith in Councilor's Hayes, Gerry's+Herrick's judgement and careful consideration of the facts!

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