The commissioner of the Department of Administration has fired former Kenai City Councilman Duane Bannock from his job as director of the Division of Motor Vehicles.
"The gulf of management and communications styles between the commissioner and I appears to be too large to bridge. Thus, I was terminated," Bannock said in an interview Tuesday. "I didn't quit."
Commissioner Annette Kreitzer was out of state Tuesday, but Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brooks said it wasn't any one thing that led to Bannock's dismissal.
"We generally don't comment on personnel matters," he said. "It was a difference of management philosophy. Duane did a lot of good things for the division."
Leaving a position on the Kenai City Council he had held for more than nine years, Bannock became DMV director on Feb. 11, 2003.
A little more than a year before, Bannock had challenged long-time Kenai Mayor John Williams (now borough mayor) for his job in the 2001 municipal election, but lost by a better than two-to-one margin. He said that outcome had a kind of silver lining.
"My biggest defeat was losing the race for mayor of Kenai," he said. "But that defeat ultimately allowed me to be your DMV director. I do believe in Divine Providence, and I'm relying on that now."
The best thing about the job, he said, was being able "to unshackle my employees and allow them to do more." The hardest, he added, "was understanding that sometimes the wheels of government don't turn as fast as I thought they should. That was hard for me to grasp."
Brooks declined to discuss any details about why Kreitzer canned Bannock, but he did say that the 14 directors of divisions within the Department of Administration serve at the discretion of the commissioner, and division directors are replaced from time to time for a variety of reasons.
Indeed, when governors change, it is not uncommon to have turnover in those jobs, Brooks said. However, it was not any decision by Gov. Sarah Palin that resulted in Bannock's termination, he added.
"It was the commissioner's call," he said.
Bannock said he has no specific plans for the future at this time, and will continue serving as DMV director through Nov. 15.
"It has been the highlight of my professional career to be your DMV director," he said. "I mean that absolutely."
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