Pressure builds for Prineville city manager to step down

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: June 24. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE — A petition calling for Prineville City Manager Robb Corbett to resign has garnered hundreds of signatures, and the document’s authors have formally presented it to the Prineville City Council.

The petition stems from a controversy several months ago surrounding the elimination of former Public Works Director Jim Mole’s job. Corbett oversaw a restructuring of city government that consolidated the Public Works Department under then-Assistant City Manager Jerry Gillham, who told Mole he no longer had a job on Jan. 18.

Gillham resigned in February after hundreds of residents protested the decision at City Council meetings.

The text of the petition, which was addressed to the City Council, states that Gillham acted “with the blessing of the City Manager” in dismissing Mole.

It goes on to say that Corbett’s “ill-advised, precipitous actions” have led to a “diminution in the citizenry’s confidence in the City Manager and City Hall,” and asks the City Council to seek his resignation.

The petition also asks the council to reinstate Mole, who has said in the past he would be happy to have the job back.

Reached in his office Friday, Corbett said he did not want to comment on the petition. He said he is not planning any action in response.

“That’s up to the City Council to decide (how well I’m doing my job),” Corbett said.

Corbett has been city manager in Prineville for almost three years and makes about $88,500 a year. He previously served as the city manager in Burns before moving to Prineville.

Mayor Mike Wendel said that he did not want to discuss his reaction to the petition. He added that the City Council has not met with Corbett to discuss it and he is “not planning on doing anything with it.”

“It’s America, it’s a free country,” Wendel said. “They have the right to do that, and that’s fine.”

A similar petition asking Wendel to resign circulated in Prineville several months ago.

Wendel said at the time that he does not intend to resign; a recall effort could not begin until July 1 since his last term in office began on Jan. 1, according to state elections regulations.

Jim Puckett, the Corbett petition’s author, presented it to the City Council at its last regular meeting June 12. Corbett said the document had also been distributed to the council two weeks earlier. Puckett said that he has been collecting signatures since early March, and the petition was available at several Prineville businesses.

The copy Puckett gave to the City Council earlier this month includes about 400 signatures.

“I just feel that (Robb Corbett) is totally unqualified,” Puckett said. “It’s a personal feeling, and I suppose that most of the people that signed the petition feel the same way, and I’m sure that we could get more.”

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