Crestwood aldermen move ahead with Charter proposal

If OK’d by board, measure would appear on April ballot

By Mike Anthony

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted 5-3 last week to have City Attorney Lisa Stump draft an ordinance for a proposed Charter amendment that would ask voters to place the city clerk’s position under the supervision of aldermen.

At the board’s Aug. 12 meeting, Ward 2 Aldermen Tim Trueblood and Mary Stadter, Ward 3 Aldermen Paul Duchild and Bill Boston and board President Mike Tsichlis voted in favor of having Stump draft the ordinance.

Opposed were Ward 1 Aldermen Richard Breeding and Darryl Wallach and Ward 4 Alderman Michael Vincent.

The city clerk currently is appointed by the city administrator, and is subject to the direction and supervision of the city administrator.

As proposed, the amendment would have the clerk report directly to aldermen, who also would supervise the clerk. Under the Charter, the clerk’s position is a civil service position, and would remain so under the proposed amendment.

If the ordinance is approved by aldermen, the proposed Charter amendment would be placed on the April ballot for voters to consider.

Earlier this year, City Administrator Mark Sime proposed an ordinance to amend the city’s municipal code to make the city clerk’s position unclassified, or exempt — the same status as elected officials, the city administrator and department heads, who are not covered under the city’s Civil Service Rules and Regulations.

Then-City Clerk Tina Flowers wrote in a May 30 email sent to aldermen that Sime’s proposal would directly conflict with the Charter requirement that the clerk’s post is a civil service position. Flowers since has resigned her position, effective July 25.

Trueblood asked Stump at the board’s May 27 meeting to draft an ordinance to place such an amendment on the ballot. But when the board met June 24, Trueblood postponed consideration of the proposal.

He noted that some questions had arisen about the proposed amendment and said he wanted more time to review the issue.

However, Trueblood said he did intend to bring the issue back, which he did Aug. 12 for a board discussion.

During the discussion, Duchild said he supported the proposed Charter amendment, provided the city clerk’s position remains a civil service post.

“… As I’ve always said, this is not about a particular city clerk,” he said. “This is about the position of city clerk, and I think the independence of that position should be held in very high regard, considering the laws that position must follow and the independence and transparency that it allows …”

During the discussion, Mayor Gregg Roby noted that if the Charter amendment was placed on the November ballot, the cost to the city would be $10,000. However, if the board decided to place it on the ballot in April, the cost would $3,200, as the city also would have aldermanic elections on the ballot, the mayor said.

Vincent has been on record as opposing Trueblood’s proposal, saying he believes it would be better handled by the city’s Charter Review Commission when it is convened next year.

Last week, Vincent reiterated his stance, saying, “… I’m amazed at how much ink there has been on this subject, the irony being this is really the first time we have ever formally talked about this, and I guess my opinion has not changed. I’m opposed to any change in the Charter relative to this position, primarily because of the cost of the election. Secondly, as I’ve shared with many of you, I think the less the nine members of this board get involved with personnel management, the better it is for the city.

“And finally, if the board decides this, it’s our job to educate the public. I’m not sure how the public feels about this …”

Wallach said he agreed with Vincent that the issue should be considered by the Charter Review Commission.

“… We need to move forward on other issues toward the city, not just this particular personnel matter or for that matter, the city clerk position. We need to see what we can do for business retention and for the citizens. I just think this is a matter for the Charter Review Committee to review …,” he said, noting he had numerous questions about how the proposed change would work.

Duchild said, “… I’d like to respond to Alderman Wallach regarding the Charter Review Commission. So, to me, that’s just a punt. You know, it’s possible that five of us on the board will not be here when the Charter Review Commission completes their report a year from now.

“As for me, I’d like to weigh in on this and you know my opinion. So I just think you’re punting it to another board …,” he said.

Duchild also noted the change would increase “the transparency to the board of what’s going on in the city, and that’s the main driver for me and the importance of this change …”

Wallach said, “… I guess what you’re not recognizing is the cost that the city’s going to incur from this board to have our city attorney review it. I think, again, if the Charter Review Commission feels it’s appropriate, then at that point in time is when our city attorney gets involved …

“I’m looking for the financial position of the city …,” he added, noting the city already had incurred legal fees from Trueblood’s request in May.

Duchild said, “… Please review the attorney fees every month, Alderman Wallach. That’s all I have to say …”

Legal bills the Call obtained through a public records request show Sime’s effort to reclassify the city clerk’s post cost the city at least $1,690 in legal fees.