A “flip” remark by Spokane City Manager Roger Crum during an interview for the city administrator’s job in Ann Arbor, Mich., could hurt his chances of landing the job.
An Ann Arbor city councilman claimed in a memo given to his colleagues Wednesday that a statement made by Crum was “unforgettable and unforgivable” and should “eliminate Mr. Crum from consideration.”
Crum is one of three finalists for the city administrator’s job. According to a Thursday article in The Ann Arbor News, he is the top candidate.
Councilman Stephen Hartwell said he asked Crum during a small group interview last week how he deals with frustration over council decisions he doesn’t like.
“His response was ‘that he does not get to vent, he goes home and beats his wife,”’ Hartwell wrote in his memo.
An apologetic Crum described the remark Thursday as “one of those things. You say something stupid as an offhand remark.
“It’s so alien to something I would ever consider. It’s a ludicrous remark.”
Crum said he recalls responding to Hartwell’s question by saying, “I don’t go home and beat my wife. I don’t go home and take it out on my family.”
In a letter sent by fax Wednesday to Ann Arbor’s mayor and council, Crum apologized for the remark.
Crum said his interview with Hartwell and Councilwoman Jean Carlberg was the sixth that day after having arrived in Ann Arbor at midnight the day before.
“Therefore, a question on how I handled stress was highly appropriate. Unfortunately, how I responded was not appropriate,” Crum’s letter said.
His letter goes on to say that “prior to giving a real answer, I gave a quick flip response about going home and beating my wife.
“Although we apparently differ on the exact wording and context of the comment, there is no question that I said something to that effect.”
Also in his letter, Crum says that domestic violence “is so alien to my personal behavior and my view of families that I did not recognize that anyone would give it serious credence.”
Assistant Spokane City Manager Bill Pupo said he’s known Crum for 18 years and he’s an excellent father and husband. “He’s just the tops in family values and interpersonal relationships.”
Pupo said he thinks Crum’s comments were taken out of context. “I’ve never known Roger to make really offensive remarks - period.”
On Thursday, Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon described Crum as a “very, very strong candidate. There is support for him and there continues to be support for him.”
Sheldon, a Republican, called the memo penned by Hartwell, a Democrat, “politically motivated. The feedback coming in over Crum was just so good. He decided he had to reach out and develop negative feedback.”
Ann Arbor’s council consists of 11 partisan members elected from five wards.
Attempts to reach Hartwell were unsuccessful.
The article in Thursday’s Ann Arbor News said that at least five council members still consider Crum their top choice.
Carlberg, a Democrat who sat in on the controversial interview, told the Ann Arbor paper she supports Hartwell’s version of the comment. But she said she has not ruled out Crum as a contender.
Crum was one of 115 candidates for the job in the town which is home to the University of Michigan.
The other two finalists are Neal G. Berlin, former city manager of Arvada, Colo., and Arlene D. Colvin, chief operating officer of Gary, Ind.
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