More from City Hall: Martin calls for Ford to be put on administrative leave

6:45 p.m.:

Councilwoman Leslie Baranco Martin is asking City Attorney Ren Nosky to look at a City Charter provision that the city attorney not hire outside attorneys without approval of the City Council. Nosky said the longstanding practice has been that outside lawyers not be hired only if the cost exceeds the council limit, about $30,000.

Martin is suggesting that lawyers not be hired until the council approve their hiring. She is reading the Charter. “I don’t know how you read that any other way.” Nosky said his office can bring forward a proposal to the council that the hirings of outside lawyers be approved. Martin said she believes White’s interpretation of the Charter is right. Nosky said there are purchasing provisions at conflict with that.

Nosky said he could bring the legal agreements before the council for approval.

Martin said her concern, however, is that the council will not meet next week and that Ford’s case will remain unresolved. Martin said, “There’s a point where you just have to do the right thing.” Martin said council members came into office¬†predisposed against Ford, that Mayor Ann Johnston knew City Manager Gordon Palmer was retiring and that other irregularities went on. She said Ford should at least be placed on paid administrative leave.

Martin said Ford should be placed on paid administrative leave. “This thing has just taken too long,” she said. Martin said, “This process is now becoming very flawed, and I think that’s just the right thing to do.”

6:53 p.m.:

Vice Mayor Kathy Miller said, “OK, we were at the consent agenda.”

But Martin is not having that. She said, “I would make that motion.”

Ford said the council could create a position for Ford, by Charter, but could not do so tonight because it is not on the agenda. Martin is making a motion to put on the agenda for the next meeting the appointment of a special position for Ford. Holman is seconding the motion.

Holman said, “I think that it’s important that, as I am the chairman of the ad-hoc committee, I think it’s important that you understand, we’re talking two separate things here.” Holman said, “My second of that motion was in a sense of fairness. I’ve wrestled with this.” Holman said, “I strongly believe that it is the right thing to do until something is determined that everything was either done right or wrong.”

Councilman Dale Fritchen said it is wrong to impose a penalty prior to finding all facts. He said, “It’s how I would want to be treated if I was the person being investigated.”

Councilwoman Susan Eggman asked if the motion was to create an additional council appointee. Martin said “it’s yet to be determined” what that position might be.

Councilwoman Diana Lowery said, “I will support the motion to put it on the agenda. It does not mean that I have come to any determination” on the end result.

The item will be on the agenda on Sept. 29.

Fritchen is asking Nosky, “I mean, what happens if we don’t have a city manager. Is it still a violation of 408 to put him on administrative leave?” Nosky said it would be, because an acting city manager would be installed. Fritchen is asking if there is a way of avoiding creating a new city position, instead having a strong recommendation.

Councilwoman Susan Eggman said, “I think if we have a city manager who’s just been there a couple of days” and we “highly recommend,” that is significant pressure. She said the council, if it wants to take an action on Ford, should take responsibility for that.

Nosky said, “It can be a special assistant to blank, or whatever you think is appropriate.” The position could be temporary and come with whatever terms the council wished, he said.

The vote is 5-1. Vice Mayor Kathy Miller dissented.

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