MONROE, N.C. — It was an unexpected shakeup this week as Monroe City Council members voted to oust the city’s manager and attorney, and neither of them say they saw this coming.
The now former city attorney and city manager tell Channel 9 they were blindsided by the decision by a divided city council. It’s the latest turmoil at Monroe City Hall, which hasn’t had consistent leadership for the past decade.
“This is the most aggressive, audacious, arrogant, unethical motion I have ever been asked to vote on,” said Monroe City Council Member Freddie Gordon.
Gordon, along with Monroe Mayor Marion Holloway, praised the work of former city manager Brian Borne and former city attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan, saying there was no logical reason for their firings.
But Gordon and Holloway were outnumbered, and the rest of the council members voted to fire Borne and Shah-Khan.
Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis tried to get more information, but council members Gary Anderson, James Kerr, and Julie Thompson wouldn’t share their reasoning for the shakeup.
Shah-Khan says he’s witnessed council turn over city managers, but now he finds himself on the outs.
“It’s a challenge for the citizens of Monroe who have to ask themselves what their leaders are doing,” he said.
Borne has worked for the city nearly 15 years, and he’s the eighth city manager in that time span.
“It’s not a good track record. Monroe has an excellent, very professional staff, and it’s unfortunate we have to work in this climate, but it is what it is,” Borne told Channel 9.
The move appeared to be a precursor to the city replacing Borne with Mark Watson, the recently fired Union County manager.
Shah-Khan says he made the council aware that Watson is under investigation for malfeasance, but he’s distancing himself from the council.
“I don’t have those legal concerns anymore because as of a few minutes ago, it’s not my problem, that’s an issue the citizens of Monroe need to take a look at,” said Shah-Khan.
Council member Lynn Keziah told Channel 9 that the dismissals on Tuesday came down to a difference in direction and personalities.
“When you hire someone, you hope they’re going to fit, and he didn’t fit,” Keziah said.
That difference in personality and direction is going to end up costing Monroe taxpayers more than half a million dollars. Borne will receive a severance of $270,610 while Shah-Khan will receive $213,399.
Keziah also defended Watson, saying that he was “following what county commissioners told him to do.”
We asked if there were any complaints filed against either employee, and council members told us there were none.
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