Diamondhead leaders say city manager had work performance issues

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - The City of Diamondhead's City Manager Richard Rose is off the job, suspended by city leaders.  After an executive session late Wednesday the city council voted four to two to suspend Richard Rose. WLOX News was there as city leaders talked about why they made that decision.

"The action that was taken, after some discussion is that the city manager has been suspended, pending his decision to request a public hearing," said Diamondhead Mayor Tommy Schafer.

That decision came after city leaders say they have had constant issues with Rose's work performance.

"Richard is disorganized and has difficulty getting along with people on occasion and the recommendation, after we talked the last time, was that we give him a 90-day period and give him a list of things to complete per month and those suggestions were ignored," said Ward 1 Councilman Joseph Lopez.

"Attendance was an issue. He was never here, it seemed and secondly he was indecisive. I feel like he didn't provide enough information to a lot of the residents," said Ward 2 Councilman Blaine LaFontaine.

Councilman Tommy Sislow was out of town, but listened in on the phone. He was concerned about the budgetary costs associated if the city removes Rose. Under the law, the city manager is entitled to a public hearing to contest his removal. City Attorney Sean Tindell says Rose's attorney has made a proposal to the city.

"I mentioned to the council and I mentioned in the meeting that Mr. Rose was willing to forgo his public hearing and also not disclose some tape recordings he had had with city officials in exchange for a continued salary over the next nine months to a year," said Tindell.

But at least one council member made it abundantly clear; he did not like that proposal at all.

"To top it off he says he will forgo a public hearing if the city pays him nine months of termination pay, to me that's close to extortion," said At-Large Councilman Ernie Knobloch.

Rose has been city manager of Diamondhead for two years now.  He was also a Gulfport city councilman for 15 years and was city manager in D'Iberville for five years.  He left that job when he was not offered a new contract in 2009.

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