City manager reprimanded by council for intervention in Worten DUI arrest

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
City manager reprimanded by council for intervention in Worten DUI arrest

Pawhuska City Manager Paul McAlexander will be suspended for two weeks, without pay, for his actions during a recent drunk-driving incident involving another municipal official.

The Pawhuska City Council ordered the suspension Tuesday, concluding more than two hours of closed-door discussions about McAlexander’s actions following a July 3 car accident involving City Attorney Jesse Worten.

Council members also voted in favor of issuing a formal letter of reprimand against the longtime city manager, who told police officers to not charge Worten in connection with the afternoon mishap. The city attorney reportedly admitted to officers at the scene that he was intoxicated.

According to a “body cam” video, which appears to have been filmed by Pawhuska Police Officer William McDaniel at the time of the July 3 incident, McAlexander advises officers to take Worten to the police department and to keep him there until his wife can come pick him up.

Watch the video at:

The council action was taken by a unanimous vote of 4-0. Cindy Tillman, Mark Buchanan, Travis Finley and Mayor Roger Taylor all approved McAlexander’s suspension and the formal reprimand.

A fifth council member — Cathy Worten, who is the city attorney’s wife — was absent on Tuesday. She also missed a July 21 meeting at which the council heard public comment about the incident and opened its executive session discussions about the city manager.

Jesse Worten, the city attorney, was issued a municipal citation for driving under the influence several hours after the accident occurred. He currently is on a two-month leave of absence and, reportedly, is participating in a substance-abuse program at an out-of-state treatment facility.