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Posted Aug 23, 2012, 4:32 pm
Tommy Obermaier, a Tucson Convention Center staffer who's run the city's arena for years, has been placed on "imposed leave," a city spokesman confirmed Thursday.
Obermaier, a former acting director and deputy director of the TCC, was placed on leave "pending the outcome of an investigation" on Tuesday, according to a Wednesday memo from Deputy City Manager Liz Miller.
The memo was released Thursday by spokesman Michael Graham.
Miller did not detail the nature of the investigation in the memo, which was addressed to Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and the City Council.
"We will inform you when this matter is resolved," Miller wrote.
Graham said Thursday that he had no further information on Obermaier's suspension from his job. Obermaier did not immediately respond to a request for comment relayed through a third party.
Obermaier's salary is about $100,000.
Obermaier's tenure at the convention center has sometimes been stormy. He served as acting director from 2008-2010, and was deputy director when a Tucson police captain, Mark Timpf, was made acting director of the TCC in March by City Manager Richard Miranda, himself a former chief of police.
Some critics have charged Miranda is building a "cop-ocracy" of departmental ex-colleagues by pushing out city employees and replacing them with current or former TPD officers.
In February, Tucson police investigated operations at the TCC, where a suspicious employee alleged problems with the handlng of cash from TCC parking lots and payments for hockey ice in the arena, and unauthorized use of city vehicles.
"On the surface, there did not appear to be any one particular act or omission to link any one employee or contractor to specific criminal conduct," a TPD memo said. That investigation concluded that policies should be strengthened to prevent the "appearance of the misappropriation of resources."
Obermaier has been the target of frequent complaints by labor unions.
In 2010, he tried to lay off workers in TCC's maintanence department - a dozen of whom were members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
That move was reversed by city higher-ups.
And that wasn't Obermaier's first run-in with organized labor.
Over a decade ago, the local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees was essentially locked out of the TCC.
IATSE Local 415 officials have said that union employees are frequently unable to work at the convention center—even when they're requested by renters—because Obermaier's son works for the non-union company Rhino Staging.
Union officials have pushed ever since to regain the contract to provide stagehands for productions at the TCC, including the arena.
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In Obermaier's absence, Kate Calhoun will take over event management at the TCC, Miller's memo said.
Disclosure: Dylan Smith worked several gem show gigs as an IATSE stagehand at the TCC about decade ago.