In an unexpected move, the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously at its first official meeting of 2012, on Jan. 3, to dismiss long-time county manager Ed Green.
Green had been Garfield County's top administrator for nearly 14 years, and had just negotiated a new annual contract worth $133,000 during the 2012 budgeting process.
"At that time, the conclusion was positive that I would be here for the next few years," said Green, who indicated that the commissioners' decision came as a complete surprise.
The commissioners said the move was part of their ongoing efforts to restructure and streamline county government operations, and to have more day-to-day oversight.
Commission Chairman John Martin, the only one of the three commissioners who was on the county board when Green was hired in 1998, praised Green's work. But he said the operational changes, including new management, was "in the best interests of the citizens."
County officials got off on an awkward foot in the search for a new county manager, when the BOCC met in a Jan. 9 executive session with a hired search consultant to discuss a job description and outline the search process.
County attorney Andrew Gorgey, after reviewing a legal opinion from the Glenwood Springs Post Independent's attorney, admitted that some of the content of the meeting fell outside the realm of topics that are allowed by Colorado's Open Meetings Law to be discussed in closed-door executive sessions. The meeting was held over again in open session.
A review of the audiotape from the earlier executive session also revealed some of the commissioners' thinking behind their decision to fire Green, including their concerns that policy directives weren't being acted on in a timely manner.
As part of the restructuring, Gorgey, who was appointed acting county manager, later eliminated two top-level administrative positions, including that of assistant county manager and long-time administrator Dale Hancock.
The commissioners, meanwhile, ended up rejecting five finalists for the county manager position in April, saying none were a good fit for Garfield County, and postponed any decisions until summer.
After initially agreeing to reopen the search in June, commissioners instead decided to hire Gorgey as the new county manager and to seek out a new county attorney.
That position was filled in October by Frank Hutfless, a former Jefferson County attorney and more recently a corporate attorney in the mining and energy industry.
Green, after being named a finalist for manager positions in Colorado and elsewhere across the country, was eventually named village manager for North Palm Beach, Fla., in late May.