Summit County Commissioner Tom Flinders blamed a "cat fight" for his resignation Tuesday.
In his letter of resignation, Flinders, who has served two years of his four-year term, said he was quitting because of the onslaught of negative publicity that followed the firing of animal control director Connie Turkington.Flinders terminated Turkington Oct. 25 because she had allowed a black and white "mascot" kitten to roam the shelter's lobby. Flinders had asked her to get rid of the kitten two weeks earlier, said Turkington, but he had never given her a deadline. She was in the process of finding the cat a home on the day of her termination.
Flinders later said that he had other reasons for firing Tur-king-ton but that he could not disclose them. Turkington still hasn't received any further explanation of her termination.
Outraged by Flinders' firing of Turkington, a group of about 25 residents formed an organization to investigate the commissioner. The group, Citizens for Equitable Representation, soon discovered that Flinders' Snyderville Basin home had been on the market for several months and that the commissioner intended to move to a ranch in Idaho where he had been spending much of his time.
The group argued publicly that Flinders could not represent Summit County because he did not live there anymore. The organization also promised to investigate Flinders' business dealings and conduct as commissioner.
With Flinders' resignation Tuesday, the group feels vindicated.
"If I felt I did the right thing I can't imagine that I'd resign," said Julie Morgan a spokeswoman for the group.
But Flinders, who did not return calls to his Snyderville home, maintained in his letter of resignation that he had acted properly in firing Turkington.
"Despite the fact that decision associated with the Animal Shelter was appropriate by Summit County personnel standards," Flinders wrote. "it is very unfortunate that the animal shelter issue has negatively impacted the county and my family."
However, Turkington, who shortly after being fired was diagnosed with cancer in her thyroid, doesn't buy Flinders' reason for resignation.
"I don't believe he would have buckled under pressure, especially if he had a legitimate reason."
She said Flinders' hasty resignation makes it appear as if the commissioner fears what the Citizens for Equitable Representation might have found out about him in its investigation.
The citizens group doesn't plan to continue its investigation of Flinders but will meet Monday to discuss continuing the organization to tackle other aspects of Summit County government.