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Thayer steps down as city manager in Iron River

DAVID THAYER

IRON RIVER — David Thayer has announced his resignation as Iron River city manager.

Thayer gave his 30-day notice at the Iron River City Council meeting Wednesday night, Iron River Mayor Dennis Powell said.

“We’ve been having little disagreements, but it was a surprise,” Powell said.

“It became clear to me the mayor wanted to go in a different direction administratively, and he should have the manager of his choice,” Thayer said.

The resignation has yet to be accepted by the council, who will have to begin the search for a new city manager.

“If they don’t make accommodations at the end of 30 days, my right to terminate the contract is completed,” Thayer said.

Thayer became city manager in October 2015 though a background searched revealed he had been arrested in February 2010 on 24 misdemeanor counts and convicted of a violation of state campaign finance law in 2011. Thayer has called these charges politically motivated.

Of the seven total applicants, and three interviewed for the position, Thayer was the best candidate, then-Mayor Terry Tarsi said.

Thayer came under fire after terminating former Iron River police chief Laura Frizzo on Dec. 9, 2016, while she was on medical leave.

She later filed a wrongful termination suit against the city and Thayer, claiming that he had an antagonistic history with women. Frizzo claimed in the lawsuit and in her testimony that Thayer called her a derogatory term toward women during an over-the-phone discussion on vacation time discrepancies before hanging up.

A jury ruled in December 2018 after a 10-day trial they did not see Frizzo’s gender as a factor in her dismissal.

Frizzo was hired as an Iron River police officer in 1995 and appointed by former city manager Perry Franzoi as police chief in 2013, the first female to hold that position for an Upper Peninsula city.

Despite the controversy around Frizzo’s termination, Thayer received an “outstanding” evaluation from the city council in 2017 as members rated him in 10 different categories on a scale of 1 to 10, with each member giving Thayer an average score of 82.6. When all five council members’ ratings were added, Thayer had a 413 cumulative score of a possible 500 points.

“I rebuilt the administrative structure of the city, and I think the city will be a fine-tuned machine going forward,” Thayer said, adding he was proud of a 10-year initiative with the Iron River City Planning Commission to rebuild city streets on a cash basis, rather than going into debt. The plan is currently in its fifth year.

“I’ve enjoyed my time working with the city of Iron River,” Thayer said. “I think the city’s in good shape going forward and I wish them all well.”

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