BISBEE — Over the past year and a half, Bisbee City Manager Theresa Coleman has been battered by negative comments on social media from a handful of residents who want to see her head on a platter.
Her commitment to standing by the city code and charter has made her a target for disparaging remarks on the way she handled the animal shelter, the farmers market and her workforce-affordable housing initiative.
Just recently, she came under fire for allowing a lease for needed pickup trucks to move forward without the consent of the council, which is required for purchases over $5,000, as well as decisions to turn ownership of stairs, retaining walls and lateral sewer lines over to property owners.
On the agenda for Tuesday night’s council meeting was an executive session to discuss behind closed doors the city manager position.
City staff, however, showed their support for Coleman to Mayor Ken Budge and Councilmembers Lou Pawlik, Leslie Johns, Frank Davis, Joan Hansen, Anna Cline and Joni Giacomino via letters representing 48 staff and department heads.
Joelle Landers read a letter from the city employees: “As employees of the city, we are presenting you letters of support on behalf and in support of our city manager. Our city manager has been under a lot of scrutiny and personal attacks and we find this very disturbing and disheartening. We urge the council and the public who seem so adamant to get rid of Mrs. Coleman to consider the following. Mrs. Coleman has made decisions that have obviously not been popular. Hence, the unfair treatment she has received. Did you ever stop and think she is working for the betterment of Bisbee. There is a lot of misinformation being spread via social media and letters to the editor. These attacks against the city manager are malicious and we hope you would show solidarity and encourage the citizens of Bisbee to get actively involved within their city government and not let one bully be the voice for all. Don’t let unpopular opinions misguide or pressure you. Since Mrs. Coleman has been employed, city morale has increased.”
The letter went on to say the negative remarks have an unwelcome impact on the city.
City building inspector Joe Ward wrote: “Terminating Mrs. Coleman is the wrong thing to do. Firing her is self–destructive to Bisbee. Facebook and its bullies are not in the majority, just loud. Theresa is the medicine we needed. Theresa is respected by her staff for her work ethic. She gets things done. Theresa has a spine and the ability to say no, something that has been missing for a long time. It angers individuals that she wants to follow the law when it conflicts with their feelings.”
An example of misinformation about Coleman was evident when Mayor Ken Budge announced she was going to close the senior center and suggested the board of the center consider an alternate site at the Bisbee Unified School District administration building where the city’s Cooper Queen Library has a satellite office.
Coleman said, “That was not my decision. That was not a part of the conversation. This is misinformation. The senior center needs to discuss alternatives with their board members. This was a gross misrepresentation of the outcome of the meeting.”
She said Councilman Lou Pawlik could back up her comments as he was at the meeting.
After meeting in executive session, the council did not take any action and the meeting was adjourned.