City Council terminates art coordinator |

City Council terminates art coordinator

Although funding for a full-time arts coordinator was approved two weeks ago, the South Lake Tahoe City Council decided Tuesday that Phylise Walker is not the person for the job.

“I do not think it is appropriate to reward someone when there has been misconduct,” said Councilman Bill Crawford, referring to Walker’s having requested, and received, two checks from City Manager Kerry Miller to cover her health benefits – a perk not included in her contract. “If we approve the contract, we’re approving and rewarding that type of behavior.”

Crawford was the first to deny renewal of Walker’s contract, but other councilmembers soon followed, each explaining his or her reasoning for letting Walker go.

“I am personally very disappointed about what happened,” said Councilwoman Brooke Laine. “But I am even more stunned that there has to be a request to get this money back. I was disappointed that the arts coordinator was quoted in the Tahoe Daily Tribune as saying that $548 is not much money. Actually, $500 can be a month’s rent for some people.”

After agreeing to set aside approximately $40,000 for the arts coordinator position during Sept. 8 preliminary budget hearings, the City Council was scheduled Tuesday to simply approve a contract between Walker and the city for the upcoming fiscal year.

Councilman Tom Davis said he could not approve Walker’s contract without significant changes, such as direct supervision of the position by the Chamber of Commerce, rather than by Miller.

Only Mayor Judy Brown disagreed, saying she believed the issue of misappropriating public funds had been overblown by the press.

“Articles in the newspaper have been extremely unfortunate in the past few weeks. They have pretty systematically destroyed the confidence a city council needs to have in its members,” Brown said. “They have unfortunately also done a lot to besmirch the reputation of several very professional people. Not to say that we don’t make mistakes, but it could have been handled in a more professional way. I would hope now that this issue can be laid to rest.”

City Council agreed to consult with the arts commission to determine what form the position of arts coordinator might take in the future.

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