Emails offer partial explanation of city manger’s departure

A clearer picture is emerging of the weeks leading up to North Las Vegas City Manager Tim Hacker’s sudden resignation Aug. 14, one that highlights an uneasy relationship between Hacker and newly elected Mayor John Lee.

Internal memos and city emails obtained by View Neighborhood Newspapers point to a number of behind-the-scenes clashes between the mayor and former city manager, including dust-ups over Lee’s move to City Hall.

An apparently major bump in the road toward Hacker’s departure came Aug. 9, when Lee asked Hacker about the city manager’s implementation of an email filter disabling office-wide communications.

Some fear that the filter, which Hacker explained via email as a step to ensure “continuity of message,” may have been meant to restrict the mayor’s ability to coordinate with staff and fellow council members.

Others said it might run afoul of the city charter.

“It was clear there was some tension; everybody felt there were some issues going on,” said one senior manager with the city. “But I will tell you there is nothing in the charter that limits communication between council (members) and employees.

“So if that was the intent, to make communication more difficult, I would have to say that violates the charter.”

Two months of weekly correspondence among Lee, Hacker, council members and department directors suggest a few of the “style differences” the mayor said he confronted with Hacker.

One August memo penned by the former city manager takes the new mayor to task for “unfortunate” characterizations of his staff in front of the state Committee on Local Government Finance.

It goes on to hint at tensions growing between the two within weeks of Lee taking office July 1.

“I unfortunately need to address this topic via memo,” Hacker wrote Aug. 8, “as the first and only opportunity to begin regularly scheduled meetings with the mayor, on July 29th, was first postponed and then cancelled by Mayor Lee.

“Attempts to reschedule have been unsuccessful … I remain ready to accommodate the Mayor’s schedule.”

Hacker, a two-year City Hall veteran, faced a torrent of union criticism in response to his support for forced union employee concessions announced as part of a city-declared “fiscal emergency” resolution adopted last summer.

The heat from public safety unions only intensified in the weeks before his Aug. 14 departure, a period that saw the former Mesquite city manager named in a discrimination lawsuit filed by city Police Supervisors Association President Leonard Cardinale.

A city severance package will see the ex-manager earn roughly half the $180,000 salary he was owed in 2013.

Hacker did not immediately return requests for comment.

Lee declined to comment on the resignation on the record.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at jdehaven@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

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