Local news

Downtown group may fire leader

Spokane Partnership president says he’s been asked to resign

Less than a year on the job, the leader of a downtown organization that collects about $1 million each year from downtown property owners and tenants is in danger of losing his job.

Mike Tedesco, who started his job as the president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership in October, said he was asked on Sept. 7 by three members of the group’s board to resign or face a vote to be terminated. The organization uses city-approved fees on downtown business owners and tenants to pay for security, cleaning crews, downtown marketing and other improvements.

At a meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. today, the board will decide if Tedesco will be fired.

“I’m still trying to decipher how we got to this point,” said Tedesco, who wrote the book “The Official Bureaucrat’s Guide for Navigating Bureaucracy” just prior to taking the job in Spokane.

Stan Schwartz, the partnership’s board chairman who is an attorney with Witherspoon Kelley, confirmed that the board would meet at his office today to review Tedesco’s performance. He stressed that there has been “no formal action” taken on Tedesco’s employment. He declined to comment on Tedesco’s performance.

Tedesco, 34, has a two-year contract and earns $95,000 a year. He said he recently began asking other similar organizations within the state if there was interest in working to change state law so groups like the partnership could contract with local governments to take over parking enforcement. He said he was asked to resign only a couple days after a city official emailed him to stop that effort.

He was criticized in his employee review earlier this year, in part for not being “respectful of city process or protocol.”

In a letter to Schwartz last week, Tedesco’s attorney, Bob Dunn, argues that Schwartz, a former assistant city attorney, has a conflict of interest in serving on the Downtown Spokane Partnership board because of his ties to the city and city interests.

Schwartz noted that board members are volunteers.

“Those are just misstatements that I’m not going to respond to,” Schwartz said.

The partnership’s board has about 25 members. Some board members, including Spokane Mayor David Condon and Spokesman-Review Publisher Stacey Cowles, declined to comment on Tedesco’s leadership prior to today’s meeting.

City Councilman Steve Salvatori, a partnership board member who owns the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center, said he’s waiting for more information to be presented at the meeting to decide how he’ll vote.

“I’m looking forward to getting a complete picture of what’s going on,” he said.

Board member Jerry Dicker, who owns the Hotel Ruby and the Bing Crosby Theater, said he’ll listen to arguments in favor of dismissal, but that he doesn’t have concerns about Tedesco’s leadership.



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