City Manager: City Council Controversy a “Distraction”
Casper’s City Manager, John Patterson, is saying that the recent controversy surrounding councilperson Craig Hedquist is a distraction for the City of Casper.
“It is a distraction, it’s occupied a lot of our time,” says Patterson. “We’re spending thousands of dollars on attorneys, we are occupying our time virtually every meeting talking and discussing where we go from here. It’s clouded things and bottle necked things.”
Patterson points out that a recent strategic planning meeting was canceled recently because, Patterson says, the current circumstances would have made the situation awkward.
This comes after Hedquist filed a complaint in the City Council, that the council does not have the power to remove him from his position.
This was in response to the findings of two investigations, one accusing Hedquist of workplace violence and another investigation siting evidence that Hedquist advocated more for his construction company than for tax payers.
“There’s going to be a contest as whether or not council has the authority to remove Craig from office,” Patterson explains. “If indeed, he violated conflict of interest statutes or policy. It looks like it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”
The Hedquist motion states that a council member can only be removed by a recall election or if he’s convicted of certain crimes. He hasn’t been charged with or convicted of a crime.
Patterson says that Susan Rose, a hearing officer selected by both the City and Hedquist has set an April date for the contested case hearing.