Mesa Parks and Recreation Division director Bob White is retiring just as one of the department’s programs has come under police scrutiny over the disappearance of thousands of dollars.
White, 55, told the Tribune late Wednesday that he has already submitted his retirement letter and plans to clean out his desk today. His retirement is effective Saturday.
Mesa police are investigating the division’s adult softball program and its former director, Jordan Stradling, after a partial city audit revealed $270,000 was missing from its coffers.
White said Wednesday that his decision has nothing to do with the fraud investigation.
“I thought it was time for me to move out,” White said. “I’m an aging baby boomer and it was time for me to do something else, and I decided to move on.”
White said he recently made the decision while on a cruise in Alaska with his wife for their 35th wedding anniversary.
“We talked about our future and decided it might be good to give the city an opportunity to take a new direction,” he said. “It’s like being a coach of a team that has some problems and decides to take a new direction.”
In previous interviews, White has said he would not be surprised if he faced disciplinary action because he used to oversee Stradling at the parks and recreation office on Decatur Street before becoming division director.
“I believe it was my overall responsibility,” he said recently. “I should shoulder most of the responsibility because I was in charge of budgets.”
The city recently fired Stradling and two employees who worked under him. Also, Stradling’s former boss, Ray Kanuit, has been placed on administrative leave, but city officials didn’t say if that action was connected to the police inquiry.
On Wednesday night, White said morale in his department has been very low, especially because the division lost staff and programs and a total of $645,777 was shaved from its budget.
White’s retirement is one of many in what appears to be a rash of retirements and resignations.
Several weeks ago, Mesa Arts Center executive director Gerry Fathauer announced her retirement.