Saturday’s Special Session meeting for the Portsmouth City Council ran into familiar problems once again regarding issues of the councils meeting space. After the first scheduled Special Session meeting on Thursday, December 19th, was postponed due to violating Ohio Revised Code 121.22 C when a large number of citizens were unable to be present for the meeting due to fire code, a second meeting was scheduled for Thursday, December 28th when a more appropriate venue could be secured. However, due to the dismissal of City Manager Derek Allen on allegations of Nonfeasance, Malfeasance, and Misfeasance, an interim City Manager needed to named and therefore, the Portsmouth City Council held Saturday’s session at 10 a.m. with the sole purpose to name an interim City Manager. Although grievances with the dismissal of Derek Allen were scheduled to be addressed at Thursday’s meeting, the council chambers were once again flooded with spectators who wanted to voice their opinions on the cities operations and according to several concerned citizens they felt the council scheduled the meeting on such short notice in attempts to discourage public attendance.
“We didn’t think this would be a big turnout today for a prenup meeting,” Mayor Jim Kalb said Saturday. “No, we wasn’t trying to have a secret meeting contrary to what Facebook told you.”
After the Council Chambers were filled Saturday with more individuals waiting outside the meeting room, the council decided to move the meeting downstairs to the lobby of the Portsmouth Municipal Building to avoid further violations of Ohio Revised Code 121.22 C.
After citizens were already stirred by the short notice of meeting, and relocation of venue, the absence of an American Flag in the lobby where the meeting was moved to then presented itself as an issue for Council. The flag presented by council on short notice posed additional issues when citizens claimed the size of the flag was too small and offensive. A third issue presented itself after the meeting had begun, when a citizen led the meeting in saying the pledge of allegiance, after failure to do so by council.
“Thank you. It’s been an upsetting morning and I missed that. Thank you very much,” Kalb stated.
City Solicitor John Haas, in attempts to reason with disgruntled citizens, explained the need for the appointment of a new City Manager and reassured citizens they would be given an opportunity to speak on the dismissal of previous City Manager, Derek Allen.
“The item that is on the agenda this morning is to appoint an active City Manager. That is the only item that can be commented on as far as things on the agenda, there is a meeting Thursday night that will give you the opportunity to speak on the firing of the prior City Manager. The reason that council needs to appoint someone as acting is right now there is no administrator to run the city, to sign forms, to put our insurance in place, to keep our insurance in place, and those sorts of administrative matters. This is something that needs to be done until the other matter can be resolved,” Haas said.
A resolution appointing Sam Sutherland, Director of Public Utilities, as active City Manager was passed 4-2 with Kevin W. Johnson and Kevin E. Johnson in the minority.
The Portsmouth City Council meeting scheduled for 6 p.m on December 28th will be held at the Portsmouth High School’s old gymnasium on Waller Street adjacent to the Trojan Colosseum Football field to discuss the dismissal of Derek Allen.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932