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Gering council members stand behind Danielzuk
May 01, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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A citizen request to consider removing Gering City Administrator Lane Danielzuk fizzled Monday night as council members and some residents spoke in support of his work.

Gering resident Eldon “Bubba” Anthony had filed a citizen agenda item requesting the council review whether or not to terminate Danielzuk for “lack of transparency, leadership and cooperation with the council, staff and citizen of Gering.”

The grievance started with what some citizens said was a lack of information regarding a potential meatpacking plant for Gering. Residents claimed the secrecy was worsened by several city employees and department heads signing confidentiality agreements regarding the project.

Before the public spoke, City Attorney Jim Ellison told council members the discussion should probably be done in closed session, as it involved personnel. He added the discussion could continue in public if Danielzuk waived the closed session requirement, and Danielzuk agreed.

Anthony was the first to speak, saying he was asked to do so by “many citizens and business owners.”

Anthony said many Gering merchants were concerned about speaking out because of retribution and what it could do to their businesses. He added that many Gering employees are walking on “pins and needles” as to the positions they’ve been placed in.

“If I had my way about this I’d ask the news media to leave because we’ve had enough of the news,” he said. “But they have a right to be here.”

Council member Jill McFarland said a possible solution might be to request the Nebraska Attorney General to investigate specifically the relationship of the city with Future Foods Energy, the packing plant ownership group to assure everything was done legally.

“We have people who are expecting some sort of action and resolution to what they see as a problem,” she said. “That’s how I came up with the idea of talking with the Attorney General. I’ll listen to other ideas, but the people want us to do something.”

City Attorney Ellison said the request could be made, but he wasn’t sure it was something the AG’s office would even take on.

“In the case of Mr. Danielzuk, I don’t agree exactly with how things were handled in this case,” council member Larry Gibbs said. “But the other action he’s taken has by far been very good and beneficial for this community. I’m not prepared to ask for his termination based on one possible error.”

Mayor Ed Mayo said Danielzuk has been instrumental over the past few years in bringing some 30 new businesses to town and retaining a half dozen others through business retention efforts.
“I haven’t heard any complaints about those efforts,” Mayo said. “The man has worked diligently with the best interests of Gering at heart.”

Council member Don Christensen said if he were involved in the packing plant, he’d advise they not even consider Gering because of “all the negative attitudes that have been floating around for the last five weeks.”

Gering resident Brady Urich said he believed the city administrator had done everything he was supposed to do.

“I commend his for taking the action to better the community and I support him 100 percent,” Urich said.

Council members declined taking any action on Anthony’s agenda item. Danielzuk declined comment after the meeting.

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