Commissioners won’t terminate Tracey Garchar; opt for probation
More than 30 supporters of Mesa County Department of Human Services employees and others saw Tracey Garchar, the head of the department, put on an improvement plan Monday by the County Commission.
And they applauded.
The commission appeared to be poised to fire Garchar on Monday morning, but opted instead to give him three months longer after a series of impassioned pleas by employees and Garchar to continue the work he has been doing.
There was, said Commissioner John Justman, “a meeting of the minds.”
There also will be many more meetings for Justman, who will be working with Garchar and Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who said on Monday morning that she saw no way around “serious concerns” that had arisen in recent months.
Pugliese represents the county on a variety of human services-related matters in Denver and elsewhere.
Pugliese, Justman and Commissioner Scott McInnis heard a dozen Human Services employees plead on Garchar’s behalf during the morning administrative session.
After an afternoon meeting in which they sought legal advice, Pugliese sought a motion to defer action on Garchar’s employment until Jan. 12. He earns $125,000 a year.
“You’re going to have a chance here to change your ways,” Pugliese told Garchar from the commission’s dais.
Agreeing to keep Garchar on amounted to “a big leap of faith” on Pugliese’s part, McInnis said. He had previously said he would respect Pugliese’s wishes because she worked most closely on human-services issues.
Justman, however, cited a glowing review of Garchar by his predecessor, Craig Meis, who told Justman that Garchar was the county’s best employee.
If there were to be a change in direction in Human Services, “How long is it going to take to get to that better direction?” Justman asked.
The commission heard comments from employees and others after Garchar requested that his employment be discussed in public.
About 30 attended to support Garchar, all of them on annual leave, said Scott Aker, deputy director under Garchar, who said employees were “extraordinarily relieved” that Garchar is remaining on the job.
Neither Pugliese nor Garchar elaborated on the precise issues, though Pugliese said she was aware that Garchar had “workarounds” involving her and human-services matters.
A “workaround” “was never the first choice,” Garchar told the commission.
Remaining on the job will allow him to continue efforts to make the Human Services Department work more closely with the county’s Workforce Center — whose director, John Flanagan — was on his third day of the job, Garchar said.
Flanagan’s reaction to the possible termination of Garchar weighed heavily in his support for Garchar, Justman said.
Mike Stahl, chief executive officer of Hilltop Community Resources, said he was pleased with the commission’s decision.
“It’s exciting,” Stahl said. “It will keep us moving forward.”