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Silverton town manager placed on administrative leave

Town quiet on why public official was sidelined
Silverton’s eighth town manager in 11 years has been placed on administrative leave. Town officials have declined to say why.

Silverton’s eighth town manager in 11 years was placed on administrative leave earlier this week, but town officials have been mum about the reasons why.

Town Manager Louis Fineberg has been in the position since Nov. 1.

Town attorney Jeff Robbins said Friday that Fineberg was placed on administrative leave Tuesday. He declined to explain further.

“The matter is being looked into as promptly as we can,” Robbins said. “That’s really the extent I can go into discussing it.”

Calls to all seven Town Board members were either not returned or met with a no comment.

Robbins said Fineberg’s duties will be spread out among town staff.

“I have spoken with the others within Town Hall, and they’re stepping up in this interim window,” Robbins said.

Silverton’s town manager position has been a tumultuous one in the past decade.

In 2014, for instance, then-town manager Brian Carlson and then-public works director Gilbert Archuleta entered a feud that ultimately led to the Town Board ordering a “niceness contract” between the two.

Archuleta supposedly violated the “niceness contract” when he spoke ill of Carlson at a Silverton bar in the early morning hours. Both men were eventually fired because of the ordeal.

In February 2017, then-town manager Bill Gardner resigned after two years on the job. The reasons why remain unclear: The Town Board called for an executive session to talk about “Bill and his job,” one council member said.

“Silverton is a very difficult place to work as a town administrator, and the track record is clearly there,” Gardner said at the time. “But I hope they come together and recognize that it’s a flaw in the governance here, and then start to look at how you address that, in an unemotional way.”

Gardner served as La Plata County Sheriff in the 1980s.

Town clerk and treasurer Michelle Hamilton served as the interim town manager until Fineberg was hired last fall.

The Silverton Town Board voted unanimously to hire Fineberg in October after an eight-month search for a new town manager, according to previous reports in the Silverton Standard & the Miner.

Efforts to reach Fineberg were unsuccessful. Fineberg came to Silverton after serving as planning director for Taos, New Mexico, and the city of Trinidad. His salary was set at $75,000.

In a previous interview in April with The Durango Herald, Fineberg said the town was taking great strides to instill a sense of normalcy and stability in town government.

“We are very conscious of not returning to where we were,” Fineberg said at the time. “People have been behaving, and we want to make sure that stays the dynamic.”

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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