DAVISON — An issue raised at the last city council meeting about whether the Department of Public Works supervisor should answer to the council or the city manager came up again March 22 – only this time it created some procedural difficulties.
Ed Brown, supervisor of the Department of Public Works, asked to read a letter he had written to the council into the minutes of the meeting, March 22, but was told he could not by Mayor Tim Bishop.
Councilwoman Jessica Abraham asked if a council member could make a motion to allow Brown to read his letter, but again she was told she could not by the mayor.
“I’ve talked to the attorney and it deals with terms of employment,” said Bishop. “We won’t deal with this at this time.”
Councilwoman Stacey Kalisz said she thinks the council should be able to allow the letter to be read because it was addressed to everyone on council.
“We should have some sort of say in this,” she said. “We’re sitting right here looking at it. It includes all of us (the council).”
Bishop said that letter was from one person involved and he recommend Kalisz call the city manager to discuss it further. He went on to say the matter addressed in the letter was brought up in October at a personnel committee meeting.
Kalisz brought up the DPW supervisor’s position at the March 8 meeting when she questioned why Brown reports to City Manager Andrea Schroeder and not to the city council, as the police chief and treasurer do.
The answer to that question goes back 11 years ago when the city council voted 5-2 to repeal an ordinance creating the position of director of the Department of Public Works, thus eliminating the job and council control over the hiring and firing of the position.
In the wake of that decision, then-council members established the position of DPW supervisor, which answered directly to the city manager.
What has transpired behind the scenes since the March 8 meeting remains unclear, with no answers being offered at the latest council meeting.
Further discussion Monday night, however, led to a statement by Abraham in which she asked if “removing (Brown’s) truck from him was brought up in October?”
Bishop replied it was brought up by the personnel committee in October, but for reasons unknown to him the recommendation to take the truck was not carried out until last week.
It is unclear if Brown’s letter addressed the decision to take his city-owned truck or not.
“The terms of Mr. Brown’s employment are something we don’t even discuss at council,” said Bishop. “It was sent back to the manager, it’s not (council’s) problem. It is not in direct relation to what we do. We are responsible for the budget, the (police) chief, (the treasurer) – those are our employees – Ed (Brown) is not.”
Councilman Ron Emery agreed, and reiterated Brown’s position is not public, and he said further if he has a problem he should take it up with his direct supervisor which is the city manager, not the city council.
“The personnel committee can be brought in to discuss it further with Mr. Brown, but this is not the time and place to have this discussion,” said Emery. “You’ve got to read your charter, you have to understand your charter, you have to understand the way council works. This free for all is not the way council works.”
“I did request…” Brown began to say, but he was cut off when Emery called the motion.
As the council agenda resumed, Councilwoman Jaime Stebbins made the comment, “We giveth and we taketh away,” to which there was no response from the chair.
Later in the meeting, when the council was asked to approve the minutes from its March 8 meeting, Kalisz said she stated at that prior meeting she wanted to have the DPW supervisor’s position answer to the council instead of the city manager. She proceeded to make a motion to that effect, which was quickly shot down by Bishop.
“That motion isn’t even correct at this time because we are in a motion to approve minutes from March 8,” he said. “The proper procedure, Ms. Kalisz, would be to add that under new business for discussion. There’s nowhere on this agenda where you can bring up a motion to switch something like that. It should have been added before the meeting if you wanted to discuss it.”
Kalisz said she did not know that and thought it would be appropriate when approving the minutes from the last meeting.
The council went on with the vote to approve the minutes, but it was voted down 4-3 by Kalisz, Abraham, Stebbins and Councilman Corey Clark.
“So, the minutes are not approved,” said Bishop. “We’ll send them back to the next meeting and see if we can approve them then.”
Kalisz said she intends to place the issue of who the DPW supervisor reports to on the agenda of the next council meeting.