By Frank Lewis
What stands out in the latest evaluation of Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen is that the members of Portsmouth City Council believe he has been outstanding in several categories, most prominently that he has developed a balanced budget required by the state.
Under that title, Allen received a 27 out of a possible 30, with five being the highest grade each council member could give and conversely zero the lowest.
Right behind those numbers was a 26 under the category – “Plan with State Auditor and City Auditor to get off fiscal watch.” In that category, Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Kalb, gave him a perfect 5. Allen picked up 25s in “fiscal management” and “meets with council members.” Allen scored a 24 in “policy execution.”
A score of five meant “excellent.” A four translated to “above average,” while a three stood for “average,” a two for “below average,” and a one meant his performance was “poor.” Members could score a zero if they did not observe Allen under that title.
What is glaringly obvious when one reads the evaluation, some members of council esteem Allen’s work higher than others.
For example, while he scored a consistent “5,” the highest grade possible, with Second Ward Councilman Rich Saddler and Sixth Ward Councilman Jeff Kleha, his numbers dropped to 1.2 in “citizen relations” from Fifth Ward Councilman Gene Meadows, who also gave him a 1.5 for “supervision.” In that same category, Allen scored a 4 with First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson.
In fact, Allen’s lowest numbers came in the category of “supervision,” where his total was only 16.5, but that was based mainly on a zero from Saddler.
Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson scored Allen under “3” in several places including a 2.4 in “citizen relations,” and 2.6s in “professional skills and status,” and “relations with elected members of the governing body” (city council).
Meadows told the Daily Times that just the other day he received a complaint from a citizen who told him every time they call Allen they only get a voice mail response and that they can’t seem to reach him.
In his evaluation, and in his questioning by the Daily Times, Meadows said it was reported to him by the president of the Fraternal Order of Police that the city manager told him Meadows was part of a plan to cut the police force to 26 officers and one chief.
“I asked the city manager about the conversation and he denied having made the statement,” Meadows said.
Meadows said the statement was never made to him at anytime and he would never support a plan to decrease the size of the police department.
Meadows said there were inconsistencies in other statements by Allen including a report about public records requests by Jane Murray.
Meadows said Allen had said, in a letter to council, that he had told Meadows about the changes to telemetry equipment on Grandview Avenue. Meadows said he never had any such conversation with Allen.
In contrast Saddler said one of Allen’s strengths is – “his determination to relieve our city from our fiscal situation with the state of Ohio,” and as a constructive suggestion, said, “At this point in time I believe that Manager Allen is performing at a high level of competency to move this city in the right direction,” and “I feel with the amount of pressing issues facing this city, Manager Allen is doing a fine job. In my opinion Derek needs to continue on the path to bring this city back to economic stability and future growth.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.