Embattled West U City Manager Michael Ross has withdrawn his name from consideration as one of three finalists for the position of City Manager of Missouri City.
In an email Tuesday, Ross said that “cooler heads may prevail” on the newly elected West U City Council that has tried to terminate his employment.
“As you may be aware, some incoming West University Place city council members elected earlier this year advised me they intended to take steps to end my employment with West U. Although my strong desire has always been to work with these and other council members in continuing to make this a great city to live, work, and visit, I had to think of my family and the opportunity to find replacement employment with such a fine city as the City of Missouri City was certainly an attractive alternative, albeit secondary to my desire to stay right where I am,” Ross wrote in his email to Mike Tanner, at Strategic Government Resources. That is the search firm working for Missouri City in his effort to hire a new city manager.
“Recently, it seems cooler heads may prevail and that at least a majority of council recognizes the value of a dedicated and experienced professional city manager,” Ross wrote. “In light of their reconsideration, I feel I owe it to the Mayor, Council, Staff and most importantly the citizens of West University Place to be sure there is no mistake about my intent and zeal to continue be here as a committed and dedicated public servant for years to come.”
Ross also notified Mayor Susan Sample, the members of the West U City Council, City Attorney Alan Petrov and Richard Rothfelder, the special legal counsel retained by the council to negotiate the terms of Ross’ severance package from West U. And, Ross notified all city department heads about his decision.
Shortly after taking office in early June, Council members Brennan Reilly and Burt Ballanfant met privately with Ross and said they wanted him to resign.
Reilly, who is vacationing with his family, said, “I do not expect to deal with these issues right now.”
Reilly contended, however, that Ross had earlier “a lot of emails” to the city council, in which the city manager said he had withdrawn his name from consideration “as a semifinalist” for the Missouri City job.
“I would be interested in reading how he got to be a finalist, when he communicated to me that he had withdrawn as a semi-finalist,” Reilly said.
Ross responded to Reilly’s comment by saying: “Today’s email speaks for itself. That is all I can say today.”
Reilly will be out of town and will not attend the council’s scheduled July 27 meeting next week.
“Nothing is going to happen next week. I’m not going to be there,” Reilly said.
Council member Mardi Turner, who has said the new council should try to work with Ross, said, “I find the timing to be interesting. I don’t know which cooler heads are going to prevail.”
Council member Burt Ballanfant also is on vacation and could not be reached for comment. Turner said that Ballanfant will not attend next week’s meeting.
Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kelly did not return emails or telephone calls seeking his reaction to Ross’ decision to withdraw his name from consideration for the Missouri City job.
Reilly, Kelly and Ballanfant have made it clear they do not support Ross as city manager.
Ross has been city manager of West U for 14 years.
Mayor Susan Sample could not be reached for comment.