City administrator’s review process discussed by board

By EVAN YOUNG

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen discussed at length last week how it should conduct the city administrator’s annual performance review after the mayor remarked that one alderman did not follow the process this year.

Aldermen agreed last week that they should send their evaluations to Mayor Roy Robinson 30 days be-fore the anniversary of the city administrator’s hire date. Robinson then would have 30 days to draft and present the final performance review to the city administrator.

Robinson said at the Aug. 10 meeting that, according to the Crestwood Charter, a single review is provided collectively by the mayor and board, and that the mayor presides over the process.

“Since the charter was adopted, the process used to evaluate the city administrator has been for the mayor to solicit input from board members individually and put all comments together along with the mayor’s to complete the review. This was the process that was used again this year,” Robinson told the board last week. “Unfortunately, an alderman did not want to follow the process and instead e-mailed his critique directly to the city administrator.

“This disturbed me because … as far as I’m concerned it’s the board’s responsibility to ensure board members follow the charter, and follow the rules set forth.”

Robinson did not identify during last week’s discussion the alderman who e-mailed his evaluation directly to City Administrator Jim Eckrich, but approved minutes from the July 27 board meeting state it was Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild.

Aldermen met in closed session following the July 27 board meeting to discuss the city administrator’s performance review, according to a record of proceedings from the closed meeting. The record states Duchild left the closed meeting after five minutes, and fellow Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel departed three minutes later.

Duchild told the Call he left because he felt the closed meeting was “not permitted” by Missouri’s Open Meetings and Records Law, also called the Sunshine Law.

Miguel declined to say why he left the meeting.

Aldermen adjourned the closed meeting four minutes after Miguel left and reconvened in open session for 15 minutes, where they again discussed the city administrator’s performance review.

Minutes from that open session that were approved last week state, “(Ward 1) Alderman (Darryl) Wallach questioned whether discussion of this topic was proper given that it was not on the agenda. City Attorney (Rob) Golterman responded that the executive (closed) session was posted and this type of discussion should occur in open session. He indicated the conversation was proper but no action should be taken by the board at this time.”

The approved minutes also state, “Mayor Robinson stated that Alderman Duchild sent his review comments directly to the city administrator, which is inappropriate.”

The Crestwood Charter states the city administrator “shall receive a performance review from the mayor and Board of Aldermen at least once a year” and that the mayor “shall preside over the review…”

Duchild, however, contends the current review process is “fluid” and that there is “no assurance for board members that their assessments will be delivered in full, or any assurance for the city administrator and board members that the confidentiality of the review is protected.”

“Just as any citizen can ask to meet with the city administrator at any time of the year and comment on his performance, so too can each alderman,” Duchild told the Call. “It makes little sense then, for the mayor to deliver a performance review that does not contain the unedited assessments of each alderman, since each alderman has different interactions with and requirements of the city administrator.”

Duchild, who was one of five aldermen elected to the board in April 2009, said at last week’s meeting his input wasn’t solicited for Eckrich’s performance review last year.

“That’s probably correct because you’d only been on the board two months by the time I was writing it,” Robinson said. “You could not provide a fair evaluation of somebody’s performance in a two-month period. So most certainly I probably would not have asked you for it but the other members were asked — people who were here were asked.

“A two-month evaluation doesn’t provide a good clear value to the performance,” the mayor added. “And if you’ve had any managerial experience you would know that.”

Duchild said, “It’s more than one day. I think that’s experience …”

Miguel asked Robinson to put the evaluation procedure in writing. Robinson agreed to provide written copies, but Miguel moved that a “resolution” be drafted for board approval to formalize the policy. Duchild seconded Miguel’s motion. The board voted 4-4, and Robinson broke the tie to defeat Miguel’s motion.

Following the vote, Ward 2 Alderman Jeff Schlink asked Robinson “why you disagreed with yourself” by voting against formalizing the policy when the mayor already had agreed to put it in writing.

“Well I didn’t disagree with myself,” Robinson replied, “because I think when the mayor says he will provide a written policy to each one of the members of the board and have that available that someone who would go ahead and put a motion in to say: ‘I don’t believe you and I’m going to force you to do it’ is a little disrespectful as far as I’m concerned. And I voted ‘no’ because of that — not because I don’t want to do the policy.”