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Airport manager placed on leave

City manager: Decision based on investigation
By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn Airport Manager Jerry Martin said he was escorted by police out of his office Friday, and issued a letter stating would be placed on administrative leave effective immediately. I was sitting in my office working on airport work that I have spent the entire week working on, Martin said by phone from home Friday afternoon. I hadn't had a chance to pack up my personal effects when Lt. Scott Burns (of the Auburn Police Department), who was very apologetic, came in and told me he had been ordered to collect my keys, city identification and computer password. Martin said he was also presented with a letter, typed on blank paper and signed by City Manager Bob Richardson, stating he was being placed on administrative leave. Richardson confirmed Friday that Martin was escorted out of his office by an Auburn policeman and placed on leave, but said he couldn't discuss the issue further. It's a personnel matter, Richardson said. I cannot speak to personnel matters. Richardson did say that the decision to place Martin on administrative leave is based on an investigation. The pending investigation involves concerns with the security and/or efficient operations of the city airport, Richardson said. It's not a disciplinary item, it's an investigative item at this time. The announcement comes days after city officials said Martin, along with six other city employees would likely face layoffs at the end of the month. Citing budget cuts and a grim economic climate, city staff said they were looking at layoffs and also offered seven eligible employees a two-year retirement service credit, which is just part of an overall severance package city officials are preparing that should be ready by the end of the month, Richardson said. Martin told the council during the March 10 meeting that he was given a termination date. I'd like to confirm publicly what I was told privately, Martin said. I was informed by the city manager that my position had been eliminated. I was not consulted ” I was given a termination date and told when my last day of work would be. The council is expected to vote on the plan, which includes the layoffs, at its March 24 meeting. Martin said Friday he has no idea why he is being placed on leave and the letter, which he said he did not wish to make public, had no indication either. This just came out of the clear blue, Martin said. I have been working like crazy to get airport business done and I have not a clue, absolutely not a clue, what this is about. Martin also said he wasn't allowed to take any of his personal items with him Friday. I have valuable furniture in there, Martin said. My jogging shoes are in there ” I won't even be able to go jogging this weekend. Martin said he has hired legal counsel. My initial reaction was shock and dismay, Martin said. This whole week I have been worried that there hasn't been any coordination on turnover. And next thing I am being told to get out of my office. The Journal's Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at auburnjournal.com.