Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor has asked Mike Spurrier, executive director of the Frederick Community Action Agency, to either resign or retire, according to an email Spurrier sent to supporters on Monday.
According to the email obtained Tuesday by The Frederick News-Post, Spurrier was asked to meet with O’Connor, City Attorney Saundra Nickols and Director of Human Resources Karen Paulson on Oct. 9. Spurrier said that at the meeting, he was given a two-page termination letter indicating that his last day on the job would be Thursday, Oct. 17.
“I was given the option to resign/retire ... but I have decided to let the issue of termination go to a vote of the Board of Aldermen,” the email reads. “We’ll see how things turn out on Wednesday afternoon around 4 p.m.”
Since 1968, the Frederick Community Action Agency, a department of the city, has offered shelter, medical care, housing and assistance to those who have a low income or are homeless in Frederick. Spurrier has held the FCAA executive director position for nearly 32 years.
Beyond confirming that he wrote the email, Spurrier declined to comment for this story. When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, O’Connor said it would be inappropriate for him to discuss personnel matters publicly.
Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, meanwhile, noted that while she has not been officially informed about the situation, she couldn’t comment on personnel issues either. Alderman Ben MacShane echoed Kuzemchak’s sentiment, adding that he hopes if a move is made regarding Spurrier’s position, he hopes the city acts intentionally and cautiously with whatever it does moving forward.
Alan Feinberg, who founded the nonprofit East Frederick Rising, said late Tuesday that while he’s not particularly a fan of Spurrier’s work, he also doesn’t support the city’s handling of the situation.
“After 31 years on the staff, even if [Spurrier is] dead wrong, I think the mayor’s wrong in cutting him off and ruining his reputation,” Feinberg said. “I think we don’t have to be brutal. There’s no particular purpose into treating people terribly bad. In this situation, I think a transition would make some sense. They should just let him leave gracefully.”
While a closed session is scheduled after Wednesday’s mayor and Board of Aldermen workshop at City Hall, multiple aldermen said Tuesday that they aren’t sure why the meeting was called, even if Spurrier thinks they will discuss his future with the FCAA. Meanwhile, Spurrier’s email called for support from the public, asking those interested to speak up in the public comment portion of the workshop.
“I would like to finish some important work and develop a comprehensive transition plan before I consider retirement,” Spurrier’s email read. “Some of the important work that I’d like to finish includes moving the FCAA soup kitchen to the Frederick Rescue Mission; helping the Salvation Army and the rescue mission open a permanent day shelter at the rescue mission; and developing a system for people experiencing homelessness to receive their mail at the post office.”
The move comes after dozens of residents spoke out in recent weeks at meetings around Frederick. In one instance, at a meeting organized by the Downtown Safety and Services Initiative two weeks ago, many Frederick residents shared their stories of walking near the current headquarters of the FCAA at 100 S. Market St.
With Spurrier on hand, the meeting became a Q&A session of sorts between the FCAA director and those concerned with the behavior of people who frequent the area around the organization’s headquarters. Those comments and conversations did not go unnoticed, according to Spurrier’s email.
“It appears that there are a few things happening,” it read. “1) Residents in the south end are concerned (perhaps fed up) with quality of life crimes such as drinking in public, open drug use, public urination, loitering, littering and even trespassing; and 2) many people want to relocate the FCAA out of downtown Frederick.
“I am not opposed to relocating the FCAA and trying to consolidate all our programs into one building,” it continued, “but these efforts must be led by the Community Action Board of Directors and Friends For Neighborhood Progress along with input from residents, property owners, staff members, clients/consumers of services, elected officials and partner agencies.”
The workshop is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and the closed session will be called immediately after it.