PDT Staff Writer
First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson ran into some opposition Monday night when, in an attempt to get Council moving on forming a City Manager selection committee, he attempted to hand pick four members of a proposed nine member panel to help search for the person to fill that position.
“As you know, the voters of Portsmouth approved the city moving to a City Manager/Council form of government, which is to begin in January of 2014 which gives us 15 months to proceed with the process,” Johnson told the other members of Council. “I have presented to you a recommended outline that leads to answering the ordinance which states - “The Council shall appoint (a) City Manager who shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the city. The manager shall be chosen by the Council on the basis of his/her executive and administrative qualifications and need not, when appointed, be a resident of the city or state.”
He then presented an outline which included the names of four people he had selected to serve on the committee, and told the remaining members of Council present at Monday’s meeting, the other five Council members could choose the other five members of the committee and he would be exempt from that process.
Johnson said he had selected John Carey, assistant to the president for government relations and strategic initiatives at Shawnee State University; Vicki Noel, vice president of human relations and organizational development at Southern Ohio Medical Center; Jerry Schneider, public affairs/senior manager for Fluor-B&W Portsmouth and Laura Walker, former Internal Revenue Service agent, former co-president of Habitat For Humanity, and treasurer of the Martin Luther King Scholarship Committee.
“The only issues I have with this, you (Johnson) and I have discussed it a little bit, is the fact that I would have liked to have had a little more input regarding who may have been on this committee beforehand,” Sixth Ward Councilman Steve Sturgill said. “I think you took it upon yourself to do that simply because no one else communicated with you, and I have no way of knowing this, but I think others have issues with the fact that there are already four names there and no one else has had the opportunity to discuss it.”
Johnson said there are five more names to be picked and he reminded Council he had taken himself out of the process the rest of the way.
“But you’ve already picked four,” Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Kalb said.
Johnson was surprised by his peer’s reaction.
“I’m honestly amazed,” Johnson said.
Sturgill asked why Johnson was amazed.
“I have done the best that I can do. You can either accept it or deny it,” Johnson said.
Given the option, Sturgill’s rejoinder was concise.
“I move that we deny it,” Sturgill said.
Kalb requested the legislation be tabled until the next conference agenda.
“I have a problem with that,” Johnson said. “We’ve already delayed it once because you wouldn’t proceed with it because I had surgery. This delays it another two weeks. These people (the four committee members) are on board and I’ve already been asked, when are you starting?”
Johnson told Council two weeks from Monday night if they wished to amend the resolution they would have that opportunity. Kalb explained it is easier to adjust what goes into the resolution before it is written, rather than to making amendments later.
Kalb’s motion to table the resolution was put to a voice vote and three members voted in favor of tabling it while Johnson alone voted to bring it forward.
Both Kalb and councilman Rich Saddler said they would prefer the issue be addressed with all council members present.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org