9/1/2014

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Politics

'It is absolutely the truth:' Schenck says Sweet told him he was being let go

'It is absolutely the truth:' Schenck says Sweet told him he was being let go
Sunnyside deputy police chief Phil Schenck at city council. Action News photo
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SUNNSYIDE, Wash. -- Some abrupt changes have taxpayers wanting answers. In last night's Sunnyside city council meeting, the mayor walked off the job and city manager Frank Sweet was fired.

It's a city where the outlook hardly matches the name - a city clouded by controversy and confusion.

Two of Sunnyside's top leaders off the job. Mayor Mike Farmer quit. City Manager Frank Sweet was fired.

The man caught in the middle - Phil Schenck. The long time deputy police chief who just last week what many considered a termination letter from Sweet.

"So I asked, 'so are you letting me go?' He responded, 'Yes I am.'"

"I believe my community and my city council needed to hear it," Schenck said.

"Because you feel that is the truth and it wasn't out before?" KIMA asked.

"It is absolutely the truth," he said.

Schenck said he supports council's decision to fire Sweet.

In the meantime, Fire Chief Aaron Markham takes over as interim city manager.

"Do you think you are prepared and have the skills to do this?" Action News asked.

"Well, I think I am prepared as I can be," Markham said.

The long-time city employee has filled in before and says he doesn't plan to make any drastic changes. He did say, however, the flip-flop of city leaders has had an effect on his city. It has delayed city projects like revitalizing downtown and building a new fire station - things taxpayers say are needed.

"More stability. That's what we need," said  Sunnyside resident Alice Pena. "We need more honest people and I think people would stay longer and we could build a better community."

To get all the answers to your questions and all sides of this story KIMA reached out to Frank Sweet. But, after all of our phone calls, we haven't heard back from him. That leaves Sunnyside confused, still asking questions and still begging for some stability.

Action News reached out to several council members, but most would not do an on-camera interview. They said they are actively searching to find a permanent replacement for Frank Sweet.

Tumultuous year for Frank Sweet

It was a year ago in January that Selah's mayor fired Sweet as the City Supervisor after 20 years with Selah.

In March, Sunnyside hired him to be the interim city manager.

In August, Sunnyside was about to give Sweet the permanent job.

But, that was put on hold when he was arrested on charges he stole computer equipment from and destroyed public documents during his tenure there.

That case is still pending.

Then the controversial personnel issue with Phil Schenck last week that ended with Sweet being fired by Sunnyside City Council last night.

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