Thursday’s Portsmouth City Council meeting left many Portsmouth citizens with questions after it ended just after council members returned from an executive session to discuss pending litigation. Once council members returned from the session, City Solicitor John Haas, brought it to the attention of the council that due to the meetings venue and the large number of citizens wishing to be present that were unable to do so due to the building’s fire code, the meeting was therefore illegal according to the Ohio Revised Code 121.22 C and should be postponed until the following week when a more appropriate venue could be secured.
According to third ward City Councilmen Kevin E. Johnson, the large number of citizens showing up for the meeting did not come as a surprise to him. “I wasn’t all that surprised, I kind of anticipated a crowd of that size. Keep in mind I have been going to city council meetings since the 80’s and I’ve seen council meetings like that before. Just a few years ago when Mayor Murray conducted her first council meeting you had folks that were in the hallway, sitting in the hallway, standing in the hallway, so it wasn’t a huge surprise I’ve seen that before.”
The council members approved the motion to postpone the meeting until Dec. 28 at 6 p.m., and due to schedule conflicts with the City Clerk, Diana Ratliff, the council also approved a motion to retain a stenographer in her place in order to maintain accurate minutes from the meeting taking place on December 28.
Councilmen Johnson believes the rescheduled council meeting will have at least the same number in attendance, if not more.
“I think perhaps you’ll see even more that what you had last night. Our citizens are concerned about what is going on in their local government, and anytime you have a situation like this you are going to see a big turnout of our citizens,” Johnson said.
It was later announced in a news release by City Solicitor, John Haas, that the meeting on Dec. 28 will be held at the Portsmouth High School old gymnasium on Waller Street adjacent to the Trojan Colosseum Football field.
Councilmen Johnson also stated he was not at all surprised at the amount of support City Manager, Derek Allen, has received following his dismissal from the position.
“No, not at all. Our city manager has, I feel, done a good job. My feelings on our city manager is pretty much reflecting in my vote from Monday night, and I believe that you will see a big out pouring of support for our city manager.”
When asked whether or not every individual that attends the council meeting should be given the chance to voice their opinions and concerns on the decision by the Council to fire Allen, Johnson was in full support of hearing grievances from the community.
“Certainly, that’s part of our agenda, as always, on our agenda we have an area to speak on items on the agenda and items not on the agenda. I certainly feel our citizens of Portsmouth should be afforded the opportunity to speak.”
An additional special session meeting is scheduled for Saturday, December 23 at 10:00 in Council Chambers for the sole purpose of appointing an Acting City Manager. According to Johnson, the name of the individual taking over as interim city manager has not yet been released.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932
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