Mayor Jeff Gore, who had been firm in his stance that all council members should be present for a vote to appoint a city manager, because it’s such an important decision, made no effort Monday to postpone any of the scheduled votes despite Otto’s absence. He had previously asserted that until all council members show up to cast their votes, he would continue to move the agenda item to a later date.
Gore did, however, unequivocally claim Monday that the reason a decision was not reached regarding the city manager issue is due to Otto’s absence.
“If Mr. Otto was here this evening, we would have hired a city manager,” Gore said, adding after the meeting that, “It should be very clear to everyone in the city of Huber Heights that there are people on this dais who do not want duly elected officials, including myself, to make a decision to hire a city manager.”
Huber Heights council has eight members, plus the mayor, whose vote breaks ties.
”I’m really tired of the term, ‘They’re playing games,’ “ Otto said Monday. “There are games being played, but to try to put it all on one person or group — no. Either you call it politics and live with it or recognize that it’s been going on in this city forever.”
Otto’s nonattendance follows an impassioned discussion at last week’s work session, during which Councilman Don Webb proposed a change to council attendance rules in response to the drawn-out city manager hiring process.
The proposed amendment, which appeared on Monday’s agenda and was also voted down 4-3, would have deemed any council member’s absence as the submission of a “no” vote on any legislation considered during that meeting.
“The reason I asked for this to be on the agenda was to address the issue of council members missing meetings to affect the outcome of a vote,” Webb said during the July 5 work session.
In response to a question posed by Webb regarding whether or not he believes a council member should have the right to miss a meeting in an attempt to impede or sway the result of a vote, Otto said, “It’s not illegal, it’s not unethical; some people may not like it, but it is what it is.”
“It’s my job to get the best possible city manager in here and I will take whatever action I deem necessary to do that, as long as it’s legal, and I won’t lose any sleep over that,” he said.
Resident Jennifer Bierley spoke during the meeting’s public comment segment Monday to express her frustration with the pained, ongoing city manager search process. Bierley echoed Gore’s sentiments.
“You were elected to provide representation. That means the residents extended a level of trust in you ... I can’t imagine there would be an employer that found it acceptable for employees to no-call-no-show or walk out in the middle of their shift,” she said. “Residents shouldn’t have to babysit council members.”
Gore said he plans to put an item of discussion on the next work session agenda to explore the option of hiring a temporary assistant to current Interim City Manager Bryan Chodkowski as the process of hiring a permanent city manager continues. Since Schommer left as city manager, Scott Falkowski first filled the interim city manager position, then Chodkowski took that interim role in November.
“Until this council shows up to do their job and vote, who knows how long it will be before we have a city manager,” Gore said. “What I do know is that the interim city manager is under a tremendous amount of work, our staff is under a tremendous amount of work, there’s work that should be getting accomplished that isn’t, and if we’re not going to hire a city manager, (Chodkowski) needs an assistant.”