February 17, 2009

City Administrator Ben Hughes resigns

In a two-sentence letter dated Feb. 16, City Administrator Ben Hughes has resigned.

The letter reads:
Dear Mayor Friedel,

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' 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.

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 Friedel
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
his resignation.

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.”
Hughes 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.

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.


  1. Whoa....what a trip. I guess he decided to jump ship before he was ousted...damn

  2. Ben did a lot of good for the City. He also tried to hold people accountable in their jobs. This probably was the right thing to do on his part because the City does need a fresh start. Don't be too quick to bash him, especially if you don't work for the city and don't know the facts of what has been going on.

  3. Ben is a good and decent guy. Unfortunately, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in a mess not of his own making (IMHO). Not a spotlight seeker or one to use the bully pulpit, he nonethless took the helm of responsibility when leadership was needed. We all should wish him well and applaud his efforts on behalf of Racine.

  4. I have a feeling there are going to be alot of facts coming out of the woodwork about Ben, may cost this city dearly

  5. If Ben Hughes was concerned with giving the city of Racine a "fresh start," he would wait until after the mayoral election to resign instead of adding to the chaos by deserting when local government is already in turmoil. We don't even know who our next mayor is going to be, of if there will even be a city administrator's position in the next administration, but he's already puling the plug. It's called CYA. I strongly suspect criminal repercussions before this mess washes out.

    Btw, Mr. Hughes was loathed by everyone in City Hall except his perv mentor.

  6. and now Becker has to have a bail/bond review, ummmm wow the stuff is starting to hit

  7. I won't say for certain, he was I believe in Arizona last week, wonder if he got a new job and figured he's get out of dodge before he was hung too.

  8. With the committe meeting behind closed doors last night concerning the lawsuits, yeah Ben got busted

  9. Ben is not "loathed by everyone in City Hall." Your statement is so overbroad. There are many people who like him and understand what a fine job he did, especially under very trying circumstances.

  10. This is like when police Chief Spinner got ousted! It smells bad......

  11. saw this on another blog, guess he was looking for a job and only went to college for 2 years.

  12. That is correct, Ben is not loathed by everyone in City Hall. Some of you are amazing at how quickly you get down on people and you don't even know the facts, although you pretend to. How sad.

  13. 11:07 your right but I guess we will find out fast.

  14. Ben Hughes did not create the mess at City Hall, nor is he loathed by everyone there. He is a decent person and has worked diligently for the good of Racine.
    The mean-spiritedness and cruel remarks by some bloggers on this site is truly distressing and reflects poorly on our city. Instead of lashing out with your negative comments, do something productive with your time -- find someone who needs your service, volunteer at your church or help out at HALO. Do something positive to benefit our community!

  15. Orbs - Stop listening to Racine Res - she doesn't know all that she thinks she does.

  16. whos racineres? I don't see a name here by that?

  17. whos racineres? I don't see a name here by that?

  18. He is loathed by most people at city hall actually, and I speak with good authority on the topic.

  19. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/6/964/6b9

    What a shame! He could have been yet another local person with a huge full-time salary while getting a degree. Isn't this part of the "Racine Promise"?

  20. My source comes from City Hall. All the lies in the world here today will not prevent what is going to happen. You reap what you sow.

  21. Yeah...now city employees can go back to their regularly scheduled slacking.

  22. Now we just need Police Chief Kurt Wahlen to follow Becker and Hughes lead and resign. Racine will finally be cleaned up once all 3 are gone!!

  23. The profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/6/964/6b9 is not an accurate representation of Ben Hughes's education. He has a Bachelor Degree and a Master of Public Administration. It seems as though someone has posted a false profile to create controversy.

  24. it looks like it's been up there for sometime, if you go on the cached last snapshot was january 2, 2009 weird

  25. Leave Chief Wahlen out of this. He wasn't hired by Gary Becker. It was the Police and Fire Commission that hired him. Chief Wahlen is a good person and nothing like Gary Becker. For all of you that badmouth the people in charge - why don't you try doing the job to see what it's like. I'd guarantee you'd think differently about what goes on and the decisions you have to make and why you have to make them. Things aren't black and white all the time. No boss will please everyone, but you do what you have to do and run the city or department or business they way you believe it should be run. Next time around, why don't some of you try to be the boss. Then maybe you'll understand how things work or don't work. The fact is Ben Hughes wasn't loathed by most people at the City. Most of the employees didn't work with him directly. Ben Hughes did rub some people the wrong way, but it is a flat out lie to say that he is loathed by most people at the City. That's a crock.

  26. Anon 7:05 - I agree with you about Chief Wahlen. However, it is true that most people around city hall will be celebrating Hughes' resignation tonight. Don't fool yourself.

  27. Anon 5:38 - is that you Ben Hughes? Who else would know the details about his education??? Since you know so much about him, what can you tell us about his problems in Wrightstown with the former female police Chief?

  28. Thank you anon 5:38 - is there a "correct" LinkedIn profile or other place that will verify what you said?

  29. Hughes was well-respected in Wrightstown. He had to deal with a bad police chief in Wrightstown, whose only defense was to accuse him of harassment. When the village demanded proof, there was none. Not so ironically, she had the same attorney as Ms. Tingle. A Racine alderman contacted many people in Wrightstown, trying to dig up trash on Hughes and could find none.
    I suspect that the blogger who posted a comment here on 2/17/2009 at 12:10 p.m. is that alderman.
    In Wrightstown, Hughes produced budgets with TAX CUTS for the first time in years. No one wanted to see him go. His time in Wrightstown was marked by his unusual naivete. He wrongly assumed that others were as honest and hard-working as he was. In a small village with a full-time staff of 12, Hughes helped collect garbage when the public works department was short-handed. When he took office in Wrightstown, he had a scandal sitting on his desk as a village trustee tried to use his office to get himself appointed as chief of police. Hughes handled it deftly, without bashing the trustee (who resigned from his office).

  30. Let's get that former police chief from Wrightstown to give her side. Somehow I suspect there's MUCH more to the story.

    Interesting we have someone from Wrightstown who has now confirmed the rumours that Hughes had someone in WRightstown file harassment charges against him there too.

    What are the chances that one person would have three women file harassment charges against him within, what, two years? Did Hughes work with any other women in Wrightstown or was that the only one? The Village of Wrightstown has how many employees that worked directly with Hughes?

    Quite frankly, Hughes has obvious issues when dealing with women, but on top of that he was in over his head in his job as city administrator of Racine. He needs to stick to the small time stuff, the little Village of Wrightstown can have him back.

  31. this guy just g picked to be city manager of St. Clair Shores, MI?

    What are we in for? I can't believe we picked a guy surrounded by all this...?

  32. You know what they say about birds of a feather! Mr. Hughes was chosen for this position out of many contenders because of everything that surrounds him. He will fit in this corrupt little city perfectly.