Wednesday, June 13, 2012

She said, He said

On May 17, 2012, Councilwoman Phyllis Holly-Ward introduced a resolution stating that in an attempt to bring the governing body into compliance with the city code, they would vote on whether or not to extend the status of any acting directors who had been serving in that capacity beyond the 90 day limit.  This vote would take place at the June 7 meeting, giving the administration and/or those acting directors adequate notice to prepare to come before the council and make their case for continuing in the acting capacity.

The resolution passed, 6 – 0 with one abstention…Councilman Alex Bethea.

You may find a copy of the audio recording of the introduction, discussion and vote upon that resolution here.

Apparently, members of council and the administration have problems with short term memory. Listening to the proceedings a mere three weeks later makes one think that Councilman Bethea and Council President McBride had just flown in from some extended time away. They seemed to not recall the prior discussion and vote.

Worse, the Mayor, the Business Administrator and the acting department directors all seemed to forget (ignore is more likely) what was supposed to transpire on Thursday, June 7.

That day, Mayor Mack appeared before the city council to give a brief status update on the general state of affairs in the city and to take questions from the members. Councilwoman was somewhat surprised to find out the Mayor appeared to have no clue of what was about to take place:

Councilwoman Holly-Ward: …and then the other one was, you do know that we are having that 90 day review today?

Mayor Mack: Which one is that?

H-W: That the directors are coming before us for their review

MM: Yes. I ‘m hopeful that we will have that resolved before that time comes. When is that date?

H-W: It’s today.

MM: Today?

H-W: Today.

MM: Ok. Are the directors aware of that?

H-W: You’re business administrator, the clerk…

MM: Is that on the agenda?

H-W: Yes.

MM: Ok.

Later, after the Mayor had left and the governing body reached that point in the agenda:

Municipal Clerk Leona Baylor: The next item on our agenda is regarding 90 day review for acting directors.

Council President McBride then yielded to Councilwoman Holly-Ward. She in turn asked if the resolutions had been prepared.  The Clerk explained that she had drafts, but nothing that had yet been reviewed by the law department. Copies of the draft resolutions are passed around.

Council President McBride: And so, Mr. Denson, I just want to know the legal status as far as the resolutions are concerned.

Acting Law Director Walter Denson: Thank you Madame President. The city code section 2 – 4 it provides for  90 days for temporary appointments. It simply says those positions terminate after 90 days unless council passes a resolution to extend the time period.

H-W: For one, I wanted to say that just for us, as a body, this was done way back on May 17 which gave us more than enough time to have this together. And I know I put in a specific request which is almost two and half weeks ago for these to be individual resolutions and to state the language. So I will just say I am truly disappointed that we are at this juncture.
I guess it would take us to read them individually and not to mention we don’t even know if all the directors are here and once again the mayor obviously didn’t even know that they were coming before us to even have this issue addressed. He’s not here so once again for me it just takes it as another time where since nobody cares why should we?

Once again, McBride asks for Denson’s input. He just repeats what he has already stated, that the acting positions terminate after 90 days unless extended by council resolution.

Business Administrator Sam Hutchinson arrives and Ms. Holly-Ward addresses him:

H-W: I’m glad Mr. Hutchinson is here so we can ask Mr. Hutchinson what happened. He was here when we did it so what happened between him and the Clerk. Something didn’t connect.

Sam Hutchinson: Relative to what? Excuse me.

H-W: Why the resolutions for the acting directors weren’t presented....

SH: I was not aware of that either. My understanding was that at the last council meeting what council was asking was for an opinion from legal with respect to the Mayor’s 90 day appointment authority. That was my understanding.

H-W: No. We took a vote to have them come before us.

There was more discussion on how to proceed. Then Councilwoman Holly-Ward addressed Mr. Hutchinson again.

H-W: Mr. Hutchinson, do you want to do a presentation as to why they should stay as acting directors? Do you want to tell us what a wonderful job they are doing?

SH: What I will do a presentation on is the authority of the mayor to make appointments even in an acting capacity. I don’t think it is appropriate to discuss before council each individual unless of course you are going to “rice” them. And I certainly don’t think it is appropriate in a public session.

At this point Alex Bethea chimes in and the pitch is made for delaying, yet again, the action.

There was a lot more back and forth but a motion to reschedule the vote for a week later was defeated 5 – 2 (Bethea and McBride voting for it). McBride left and Council Vice President took the chair. All five resolutions were introduced and voted on. They passed 5 – 0 with Bethea abstaining.

You can download the full audio of the 35 minute discussion and vote on this matter as well as Mayor Mack’s surprise at finding out the 90 day review was scheduled for that day at this link.

1 comment:

Robert Elliott Chilson said...

Thanks for the link to the recordings, I didn't know the City Clerk was so up-to-date.