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Des Plaines city council ousts city manager
Search for new manager deferred while assistant city manager fills in
By Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald Staff

Jason Bajor

 

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Published: 1/19/2010 8:24 PM | Updated: 1/19/2010 9:12 PM

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The Des Plaines city council Tuesday night ended City Manager Jason Bajor's employment, granting him 6 months of severance pay and health insurance benefits.

The vote was 5-3 to let Bajor go. Aldermen John Robinson (2nd Ward), Matt Bogusz (3rd), James Brookman (5th), Mark Walsten (6th), and Rosemary Argus (8th) voted in favor of Bajor's termination. Aldermen Jean Higgason (4th Ward), Dan Wilson (7th) and Patti Haugeberg (1st) voted against it.

Bajor's yearly pay was $138,000. Citing the tough economy, he earlier decided to forego a salary increase this year that would have amounted to about $7,000.

The city council appointed Assistant City Manager Jason Slowinski acting city manager with $131,000 yearly salary plus benefits, deferring the search for a new manager to an undetermined date.

"We're going to see how well he (Slowinski) performs," Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan said. "I have full faith in him that he will do the job."

Neither Moylan nor any of the council members would comment on Bajor's firing.

Bajor was not present at Tuesday's meeting. His usual seat at Moylan's right hand was filled by City Attorney David Wiltse.

When reached on his cellular phone, Bajor said he needs to first consult with his attorney before he can talk about his termination.

Bajor has had his detractors, including those who have questioned the expansion of his authority by consolidating various departments and duties under the city manager's office. Yet, it's unclear exactly how his departure was set into motion.

Moylan said earlier it was Bajor who contacted the city attorney and Alderwoman Argus roughly two to three weeks ago to discuss the possibility of resigning and to inquire whether he would get a severance package if he did.

But it's unclear whether Bajor initiated the resignation talk to pre-empt a movement to fire him.

The city council soon afterward gave Bajor the signal that he was out more than a week ago in a 5-3 vote taken in closed session. The vote went exactly the same way then with the same aldermen in favor and opposed to Bajor's "resignation."

None of the aldermen who voted for Bajor's departure at the time would discuss why they wanted him to leave.

Bajor also declined to comment at the time saying his attorney was working on the terms of a severance agreement with the city.

Bajor had been with the city since 2000. He began as an assistant city manager in charge of human resources and became acting city manager on David Niemeyer's departure in May 2007. Bajor became city manager in February 2008.