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Monday, September 12, 2016

Discussion of rumors affecting city employee morale and performance of interim city manager Steve Hill sparks fireworks.

Councilman Pete Souza discussed rumors at city hall and the performance of interim city manager Steve Hill during the September regular city council meeting adding that he would be filing 13 ethics charges in a complaint that he said included both criminal and unethical behavior.

When Mayor James Mayberry called for the item on rumors affecting morale of city employees, Souza said, “I don't have a motion. I think everything I had to say I said in the article that I wrote for the agenda item. The rumors that are out there have affected the morale of the city employees, particularly those employees at the parks department.”



Here Souza was interrupted by Councilman Jesse Kerley saying, “Mayor is there a motion on the floor? Seriously, are you going to do your job? Its parliamentary procedure. Its Roberts Rules of Order, specifically states that there must be a motion on the floor for discussion to commence. That's your job mayor!”



Mayberry responded to Kerley, “After a brief introduction.” Mayberry then turned to Souza, “Is there a motion sir?”

No, I'm not going to make one. Let's just skip it. Everybody can read it. Everybody knows what's out there,” commented Mr. Souza.

Souza report on city hall rumors at this link

Mayberry then asked it Souza had a motion on the next item.

After a moment, Souza said, “I'm not going to make a motion.” He then asked for how long he could speak and was again told a brief introductory comment. Souza continued, “I wrote some things that I find relative to the performance of the city manager. The city manager's performance is reflected on those people who appointed him. And I'm not going to comment any further, because come Monday morning, I'm going to file 13 ethics charges of criminal and ethical behavior and I don't have to have a second for that!” (The ethics filing has been delayed but Mr. Souza said it would be later this week.)
The next item concerned the city manager's vehicle. Souza began saying he believed that the vehicle was being used improperly. Souza moved that the vehicle currently being operated by Mr. Hill be returned to the parks department and the vehicle previously used by the city manager be returned to city hall to be used by the city manager.

Interim city manager Steve Hill listens while the council discusses his actions.

With a second by Mayor Mayberry, Souza began discussion. He said when Mr. Hill was with the parks department he had to have a utility vehicle to haul things around. According to Souza, on Hill's first day as manager, he had parks director Tammy French swap vehicles with him. Souza said Ms. French had not come to him about the matter. Souza said he calls and complaints from other city employees on the vehicle situation. Souza asked if the parks department had to pickup supplies and material in a sedan.

Councilwoman Pamala Harris asked Mr. Hill about the situation and he said that Ms. French didn't have a problem with it and she could use the truck if needed. Hill added that there were other trucks in the park department that could be used to pickup supplies.

Mayberry asked what was wrong with the sedan. Hill said nothing and that he preferred driving a truck and the 4 wheel drive would come in handy depending on where he needed to go.

Souza expressed concern about the possible level of intimidation, “People are running scared. Morale is low. They are afraid for the jobs. They are afraid of Kerley.”

After Souza stopped talking there was a smattering of applause from the audience.

Mr. Wyatt said he had not had any employees call him about any issues and Mr. Mayberry said he had not had calls either.

Ms. Harris said she didn't think the council was supposed to interfere with operations. “This is just ridiculous,” said Harris, I think Mr. Hill and Ms. French can talk and can workout anything they need to workout to make sure that our parks and recreation department has the vehicles they need to go pickup whatever it is that they need. And I just think this is way out of control and shameful that we are sitting here and discussing this. I don't know what else to say”

Mr. Wyatt asked city attorney Will Ridley if the motion interfered with the city charter. Ridley said he would need to look at that before he could answer.


Mayor Mayberry expressed concern about the action in light of the charter and Mr. Souza then said he would withdraw his motion. That elicited a question from Mr. Kerley to Mayor Mayberry as to why he seconded the motion if he knew it was wrong? Said Mayberry, “I didn't realize it until it was brought to light by Mr. Wyatt.   

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