Casper Mayor Says She’ll Resign If Council Doesn’t Support Her
Two residents Tuesday told Mayor Kenyne Humphrey she needs to resign from Casper City Council to clear the air from the recent turmoil in city government that has been years in the making.
After the meeting, she said she will consider the requests for her resignation.
"Yes, if my council doesn't support me then I will be happy to leave," she said.
During the public comment period at the council's regular meeting, people chided her leadership and other council members' handling of a rapid-fire series of events starting two weeks ago: the release of a Fraternal Order of Police survey of officers who criticized Wetzel; the resignation of Councilmember Todd Murphy; City Manager V.H. McDonald announcement of his retirement effective June 1; the questionable appointment of Assistant City Manager Liz Becher as interim city manager; Councilmember Shawn Johnson's letter castigating the city manager's office and council leadership for Becher's appointment; the FOP's membership vote of "no confidence" in Wetzel on Monday; and McDonald's request and council's approval -- made formal Tuesday -- to accelerate his retirement effective Monday.
One of Humphrey's critics, Ken Ball, said the current problems began when John Patterson was city manager from July 2011 to November 2015 when McDonald became city manager. Patterson's critics said he focused more on major capital projects and not enough on the actual management of the city, and that it seemed he ran the council rather than the other way around.
"He's gone, we're still here," Ball said. "His legacy lives on with us and with this council."
The city needs to make a change, he said.
"I think that the people that were in his court, his advocates, you madam mayor, the biggest one, should tender your resignation," Ball said. "I don't feel that anything's going to change until some of these issues that still linger can change so we can start over, to the point of even suggesting to this council that perhaps we need a different form of government here."
Ball and former Councilmember Keith Goodenough suggested Casper change its system in which the council -- the mayor being the first among equals -- hires a city manager to oversee the departments. That would require a change in the city's charter by a vote.
Another resident, Tracy Lamont, said Humphrey was trying to do the right thing, but he also said she should resign.
"It's with a real heavy heart, I got to tell you, to amend the process you need to step aside," Lamont said. "You really do. That hurts me to tell you that. This didn't have to happen."
Dennis Steensland also blamed Humphrey for recent events, and especially chided Councilmember Amanda Huckabay for reading a profanity-laced comment from the FOP survey two weeks ago.
But Huckabay strongly defended her recent comments, and Humphrey's apparent change of, if not hardening of, her civic heart and resolve to fix what's wrong.
Public safety takes precedence over whatever recreational or other amenities a city may offer. That goes to the heart of her interest in the investigation of the police department that begins Wednesday with council approving Tuesday a $63,000 contract with the Center for Public Safety Management LLC, for an independent comprehensive analysis of the department.
"It is no secret that I have been critical of Kenyne for a number of years because I felt like she has been very wishy-washy, or not taking hard stances," Huckabay said.
"But I support her, even though I didn't vote for her (to be mayor)," she said.
"I feel like in the last couple of months, she has vowed to not act like she has done in the past and to take those hard stances, and to rise up as a leader," Huckabay said. "And I commend her for that."
Humphrey, who is the last to talk during councilmember comments, didn't say anything other than to declare upcoming council meetings.