In a two-sentence letter dated Feb. 16, City Administrator Ben Hughes has resigned.
The letter reads:
Dear Mayor Friedel,Hughes' tenure has not been without controversy. He has been the subject of two harassment suits, one by the fired administrative secretary Sandra Tingle and the other more recently by Racine Public Health Administrator Janelle Grammer. In both cases, the city filed responses citing poor work performance by disgruntled employees.
I am writing to resign my position as City Administrator effective February 16, 2009. I wish to thank you, the City Council, the City employees, and the residents of Racine for their support during my tenure.
Benjamin M. Hughes
Hughes was also tied heavily to former Mayor Gary Becker -- who recommended hiring him in 2007 -- and a number of the candidates for mayor have said they would like to eliminate the position of city administrator. (Hughes, left, at press conference announcing Becker's arrest in January.)
But it's since come out that Becker and Hughes were not as close as reported. Becker, in fact, may have been positioning to fire Hughes this spring.
It's also worth noting that new Mayor Tom Friedel met in closed session with the City Council's department heads Monday night - they met as the Executive Committee - to review two complaints that involve Hughes. Both Sandra Tingle and Janelle Grammer allege Hughes mistreated them.
Everybody is saying the right things, but you have to wonder what went on behind closed doors. Here's Friedel's letter:
From: Mayor Thomas FriedelHughes started work on Oct. 1, 2007, at a salary of $110,000. He replaced Steven Nenonen, the first city administrator, who held the job for 3 1/2 years -- and whose departure was marred when it was discovered that he received a $29,000 payment for unused sick leave, as well as health insurance coverage until he and his wife turn 65.
Subject: Resignation of City Administrator Benjamin M. Hughes
Date: February 17, 2009
On Monday February 16, 2009 I accepted the resignation of City
Administrator Ben Hughes. Mr. Hughes began his duties with the City of
Racine in October of 2007 and was the second person to occupy the position of
City Administrator that was established in 2003. I was well aware when I
accepted this appointment to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of
former Mayor Gary Becker that there were personnel issues at City Hall that
would need my attention. This is one that I did not anticipate.
City Administrator Hughes did a terrific job for us and his positive
passion for the city was evident in everything he did. Racine is a better
place because of his public service. We are particularly grateful for his
leadership and hard work during the aftermath of Mayor Becker’s
resignation. These have been very difficult and trying times for our
community and especially for Mr. Hughes. He has informed me that he
believes it is in everyone’s best interest that he moves on and I have accepted
We wish Mr. Hughes nothing but the best. Mr. Hughes has authorized me
to release his statement:“I will forever be grateful for my service with the
City of Racine. I depart with the confidence that this City has a bright
future and much for which it should be proud. I realize that when a person
accepts a public leadership appointment such as mine, that unique circumstances and unanticipated events sometimes call for the need for a new page to be turned. I do believe the next administration should have a fresh start and time for assessment of how next to move forward. I sincerely thank the City Council, the City employees, and the citizens for the confidence and support they have consistently shown to me.”
No such sweetheart deal for Hughes: His resignation agreement specifies that he is to receive pay for 11 accrued vacation days, 1 personal day and 122 hours of sick leave.