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Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

Merriam fires former Lawrence clerk

Hummert took position as city administrator in July; cause of firing unknown

November 29, 2001

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When longtime Lawrence city clerk Ray Hummert left to become Merriam city administrator last July, he wasn't worried about that town's unstable political situation. After all, he was hired with the unanimous approval of Merriam's eight-person city council.

Only months into the job, that unity turned against Hummert. The entire council voted Monday night to fire him.

Hummert, 55, still lives in Lawrence he was so new on the job he hadn't found a home in Merriam yet. Wednesday, he declined to comment on the specifics of the firing, and Merriam Mayor Carl Wilkes didn't return phone calls.

"People were supportive about taking the job," Hummert said Wednesday. "It just didn't work out as well as I anticipated."

Merriam's city council is known for the frequent 4-4 voting splits between pro-business and pro-neighborhood factions. Those politics have taken on the government's professional staff. Hummert's predecessor, Eric Wade, left in October 2000 after 11 years.

"It's been politically charged here in the community the last two-and-a-half, three years," interim City Administrator Quinn Bennion said Wednesday. Wade "left primarily due to his dealings with the council."

When Hummert was hired in May, in fact, it was partly because Bennion withdrew his name from consideration for the post, he said, "primarily because of the political situation."

And Lawrence City Manager Mike Wildgen said Hummert had performed well during his 17-year tenure here.

"He didn't have any problems here," Wildgen said. "Ray was good. He had a long history here."

Hummert receives $45,000 in severance salary, as well as other benefits. He said Wednesday he will take time off before seeking a new job.

"I would like to return to government," he said. "I'll take some time and see what's available."

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