Council uses executive session

City manager discussed behind closed doors

By Frank Lewis -

When it came time for Portsmouth City Council to discuss the evaluation of Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen, they retired into executive session. Allen expressed to the Daily Times his desire to have that discussion take place in the open in front of the public, but that was not to be.

When all numbers were crunched recently, city council gave Allen what amounted to a C at the same time that Allen released a report saying he has saved the city $8.8 million from Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2016.

The Times objected to the move to executive session, which sent Portsmouth City Solicitor John Haas to his office to research the legality of that move. Haas returned with a copy of the law and highlighted the part that gave reasons for allowing executive sessions.

That section read in part – “To consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, or compensation of a public employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual, unless the public employee, official licensee , or regulated individual requests a public hearing.”

The technicality acknowledged by both Haas and Allen is that he did not ask for a public hearing during the council session before they retired to executive session.

On Tuesday, the Times talked with Allen about any action that may have come out of the executive session, but he said he was not told anything.

The only surprise that came out of the regular public council meeting was a vote to table Allen’s request to receive a raise if city employees receive a raise. When the item came up for a first reading, Vice President Kevin E. Johnson moved that the legislation constitute a first reading.

“I think this is a little premature as we haven’t even finished the evaluations yet, and, as per his current contract increases are based on that evaluation and at the time of evaluations is the time that we would look at any changes to the contract,” Mayor Jim Kalb said. “Also I have a concern or question that we’re grouping him in for raises for city employees, and it would seem like a conflict as a person that the person who negotiates the contracts or provides the information for negotiating the contracts and also has in his current contract, under ‘compensation’ it says the city manager is a non-classified exempt employee of the city, but we’re grouping him in for raises as a classified employee.”

Both Allen and Haas insisted Allen is simply a city employee like all other city employees.

When the smoke cleared, council voted 3-3 and the item was tabled.

City manager discussed behind closed doors

By Frank Lewis

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.