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Wayne McDonald firing: Michael Hancock says sacking friend tough but in city's best interest

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Unsurprisingly, reporters at Michael Hancock's press conference this morning were more interested in the news that the mayor fired a close friend and aide, Wayne McDonald, than the stated topic of the event (his plan to solve the city's structural budget gap).

"We had received an accusation which we looked into immediately, and we acted immediately," Hancock said.

McDonald was fired last month amid "serious allegations of misconduct," the Denver Post reported.

"Let me make this very general comment," the mayor said at the Wellington Webb Municipal Building after taking on-topic questions about his office's four-part package to address the city's $94 million gap in 2013.

"I've managed people. I've never been in a place or space where it's okay to talk publicly about personnel matters," he said. "Wayne McDonald was an employee here with the city. He was with my administration, and he is not at this time. And I think everything that needs to be said has been said publicly. There really isn't anymore left to that. But we will be diligent in protecting the privacy...of Wayne McDonald, as well as the other employee."

The Post reported that McDonald allegedly made inappropriate comments in front of a female Denver Police officer.

Reporters today pressed Hanock to go into further detail about the allegations.

"There are no...details to share publicly," he replied. "I've managed people. The one thing you don't do is talk publicly about personnel matters."

"Did you personally fire McDonald?" one reporter asked.

"Mr. McDonald worked for my administration. He was an appointee of mine, so it was my responsibility to dismiss appointees or hire," he answered.

Did McDonald commit a crime?, another reporter asked. "No, sir, he didn't," Hancock said. "Any other questions?"

Yes, there were, but Hancock took only one more. After being asked if the experience had been a struggle given his close friendship with McDonald, he answered, "Oh, absolutely. Personnel decisions are always difficult. When you have people that you care about involved, it's tougher. So absolutely. But I will tell you that...my responsibility, my office makes the decisions in the best interest of the city, and we are judged by how we respond to those challenges as they present themselves, and we acted responsibly in the best interest of the city."

After the official news conference was finished, the mayor was again bombarded with questions about McDonald -- prompting him to repeatedly tell a crowd of reporters surrounding him that he would not talk about the details of personnel matters.

Asked what McDonald actually did for his administration, the mayor said he worked extensively in both the private and public sector and served on special projects.

Westword asked Hancock if he was looking to replace McDonald.

"Not necessarily," the mayor said, before he was cut off by another reporter asking if he and McDonald were still friends.

"We're still friends, yes," the mayor said before his press team shut down the questions and whisked Hancock away in the opposite direction.

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