Over a hundred individuals were present at last night’s meeting, with hundreds more tuning in online to live feeds. After multiple members of the community spoke out in support of Allen, Council members retired to executive session to discuss personnel issues where, upon their return, motion was passed to have City Solicitor, John Haas, prepare legislation altering the status of City Manager Derek Allen from terminated to paid administrative leave status backdated to December 18, 2017.
Allen later confirmed the documents presented to council after the executive session was, in fact, a request for a public hearing, although according to a statement by Mayor Jim Kalb, the City Manager cannot make the hearing request until his status has been voted on by Council.
Thursday’s meeting also marked the last meeting for Councilman Kevin W. Johnson of the 1st Ward, who lost his seat to Sean Dunne in the November 2017 election.
Kevin W. Johnson stated he was still unhappy with the decision made by Council.
“I continue to be disappointed, I think I’m the only member of this Council that has worked in a corporation and really knows what HR 101 is. Human Relations is a big part of being an officer in a bank, and I’ve worked at two banks. Process wasn’t followed. I would love to have had the answers to the questions and the charges, I would like more detail. I’ve already heard detail on some of them and they aren’t going to hold up. Others I don’t know, I would have loved to have gone through that process to talk to the City Manager. We never had that opportunity. Bottom line, Derek has been an outstanding City Manager,” Councilman Kevin W. Johnson said.
Kevin W. Johnson, alongside Councilman Kevin E. Johnson, voted against the removal of City Manager Derek Allen at the December 18th Council Meeting. Both Councilmen also voted against the placement of Sam Sutherland as Interim City Manager.
“Derek and I have had our words, rather strong ones, but we’ve worked through them and that’s what it takes when you have strong willed individuals. You have to work together. Unfortunately you have a situation here, where certain members of council won’t even sit down and talk with him. That’s been going on for four years, they haven’t once sat down to talk with him. You can’t work in that type of situation. Council also has a tendency to micromanage. You cannot do that. That’s not what a board of directors, or City Council is for. You don’t micromanage. You have to manage from the top, you issue the overall directive for the year and sit back and let it run. You only step in when it’s wrong. Otherwise, stay away. Do the job of legislation, because that’s what Council is. We are the legislative branch, we’re not there to interfere every two weeks and pick on “why didn’t you fill this pothole”, that’s an individual discussion,” Kevin W. Johnson said.
Although he no longer will fill a seat on Portsmouth’s City Council, Kevin W. Johnson says he will continue to take an active role in City government, but from a citizen’s standpoint.
“But I’m off council now, I mean I’m going to be watching just like the hundred and twenty or more people that were here, I’ll be watching now, listening, and again I’ll be making up my own mind how this Council is leading the city. Because they’ve taken over now from the City Manager,” said Johnson.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932