The Tucson City Council embraced the nuclear option this afternoon and fired City Manager Mike Hein.
There were obvious tensions between Hein and some council members, but we're still surprised that council members Karin Uhlich, Shirley Scott, Regina Romero and Steve Leal pulled the trigger. Why not at least wait until after a budget was approved to bring this kind of instability to Tucson? And losing Hein will surely set back the already slow pace of downtown redevelopment.
The firing will also raise eyebrows in Phoenix and makes preserving Rio Nuevo that much more difficult. As Sen. Jonathan Paton told Rob O'Dell of the Star:
Despite the council's criticism of Hein's handling of Rio Nuevo, state Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, said the city's problems with the Legislature will only grow worse if Hein is fired. He said he's heard from numerous people in Tucson and Phoenix that Hein's neck is on the chopping block.
Paton, who wants to reform Rio Nuevo rather than kill it, said that job will quickly become impossible if Hein is fired.
While he said he didn't agree with everything Hein has done, Paton added, "The credibility of Rio was done with his word and his handshake in 2006" when the Legislature voted to extend Rio Nuevo.
"All bets are off if they get rid of him," he said.
Well, what's a few hundred million bucks?