By J. Patrick Pepper
DEARBORN — The executive director of one of the city’s two downtown development authorities resigned Thursday, effective immediately.
The East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Board, which includes Times-Herald Publisher Michael Bewick, voted 7-0 to accept Michael Boettcher’s resignation at its regular meeting Thursday.
Board members Patrick Allison and Dan Merrit were not present.
The resignation comes less than two weeks after Boettcher was placed on administrative leave by the board’s executive committee and ordered to remove his belongings from EDDDA offices. Board members cited poor job performance as the reason he was placed on leave.
“There were a number of projects that weren’t completed in a timely fashion, there was direction given to him by the executive committee that wasn’t really followed to their satisfaction,” said EDDDA Chairman John Morgan at the time of Boettcher’s administrative leave.
Board members have declined to go on record when asked for further explanation of the alleged issues with Boettcher’s performance.
But at the meeting where he resigned, Boettcher got a chance to say his piece. Reading from a prepared statement, he touted his achievements, warned of district backsliding in his absence and acknowledged that personal problems may have affected him more than he realized. He also accused the board of providing little support or positive affirmation during his tenure.
Boettcher, who held the position since 2004 when he came over from the city of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department, credited himself with creating the DDA’s first two offices, outlining administrative procedures and raising public awareness of the district.
It was his most time-consuming — and perhaps, significant — task that Boettcher believes led to his downfall. That was, he said, to foster a common sense of purpose among district stakeholders who at times often were ignorant or suspicious of one another.
Asked what he meant by that statement, Boettcher said only that toward that end he took weekend classes in Arabic.
But he did characterize this bridge-building work as perhaps the least tangible of his duties and acknowledged it may have “led some to question how I spent my days.”
Boettcher accused the board of meddling in his duties, pointing specifically to a Web site project that he says the board made him start from scratch several times. Board members have denied that claim.
Boettcher also said board members did not pay enough attention to his personal life. He expressed regret that what was described later as a “bad breakup” may have interfered with his work over the last year, with the caveat that “a boss who’s engaged well enough to read changes in an employee’s behavior and checks in with the employee gets a better performance in the end.”
“All of this is a total mystery to me,” Boettcher told the Times-Herald when asked his thoughts on his induced resignation.
And while some things seem bound to remain a mystery, one thing that’s certain is that the authority will hire a new executive director. Morgan said the board would determine a course of action before its October meeting with the top order of business being a defined vision for the district.
Once the vision has been outlined, Morgan said, the board will know what type of individual they are seeking for the position.
“To put it simply, we want to decide what we want before we decided who we want,” Morgan said.