City Manager Controversy
Looks like a controversy is brewing over the appointment of a new city manager. As far as I can tell, there are two pieces to this. One piece is the choice of current Director of Development Services and Acting City Manager Kevin Baity for the position. The other piece is Mayor Fritzler’s decision to issue a press release announcing “consensus” on the choice before the city council has formally voted on the appointment.
The choice of Baity for city manager has generated controversy because of doubts about his commitment to strict enforcement of Carbondale’s city code. Council member Jane Adams expressed her intention to vote against Baity’s appointment in an email to supporters on Wednesday. It appears that a majority of the council will vote to appoint Baity.
The other issue is Mayor Joel Fritzler’s decision to issue a press release announcing Baity’s appointment before the council has had a chance to formally vote on it. Council has discussed the appointment in closed session and a majority of council members, led by Fritzler, support hiring Baity. But until the full council has voted in open session, Baity is not appointed. That means it’s still premature to issue a press release announcing that he will be appointed.
The issue isn’t as simple as a premature press release. Council is allowed to discuss personnel matters in closed session, but is supposed to vote on them in open session. If the mayor has issued a press release announcing Baity’s appointment, that implies the appointment is a done deal. That, in turn, implies that a vote has been taken. And that would be a violation of the Open Meetings Act.
In her email on Wednesday, Adams said that she had advised Fritzler not to go ahead with the press release and that it might constitute a violation of the Open Meetings Act. Fritzler, who has sometimes acted in a high handed fashion since being elected mayor in 2011, chose to issue the press release anyway.
I’d be interested in knowing why Fritzler chose this course. I’d also be interested in knowing which council members supported Baity’s nomination and which opposed it. Since the 2011 election, we’ve had a pretty stable majority on the council, with Fritzler, Adams, Monty, and Fronabarger voting together. Clearly in this case Adams and Fritzler are on opposite sides. I’d like to know where Fronabarger and Monty stand.
Comments are welcome.