DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham County commissioner is defending his vote to oust former County Manager Mike Ruffin.
Commissioner Philip Cousin decided to hold a news conference Tuesday to clear the air. The commission came under heavy scrutiny after the 3-2 vote to fire Ruffin.
"The manager has demonstrated an unwillingness to accept responsibilities for his actions and has shifted blame to employees and others when problems have arisen in the organization," he said. "The manager has lost the respect and trust of the majority of department heads because of an inability to make sound management decisions and exercise good judgment."
Cousin went on to criticize Ruffin's handling of an audit in the Human Resources Department. County Commissioner Becky Heron took offense to what Cousin said about Ruffin.
"That is not correct. That is not Mike Ruffin he's talking about," she said. "He's fair and he certainly has looked out for the employees."
Ruffin has said his firing was wrong and not justified.
"I think the right thing to have done in the very least would have been to let me know it was coming. No one did that," he said.
Even though the vote was split among racial lines, Cousin said the decision was based on his performance.
Two commissioners who voted to fire Ruffin are leaving the board. Voters will elect their replacements in November. It is possible that the new commission could vote to rehire Ruffin as county manager.