Ex-alderman tells Sime he’s lost confidence in his ability to move Crestwood forward

Trueblood asks board to delay consideration of proposed amendment on clerk’s position

By Mike Anthony

A former longtime Crestwood alderman recently told City Administrator Mark Sime that he has lost confidence in Sime’s ability to move the city forward.

Former Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel, who joined other aldermen in voting 7-0 to hire Sime in January 2013, cited a series of decisions made by Sime that have caused Miguel to lose confidence in the city administrator.

During a period for public comment at the June 24 Board of Aldermen meeting, Miguel said he had been out of town for a couple of weeks and when he returned, he was surprised to read a headline in the Call that stated, “Sime declines to explain his attempt to reclassify Crestwood clerk’s post.”

In that article, the Call reported that Sime declined to explain why he attempted earlier this year to reclassify the city clerk’s position as an unclassified position — a change that appears to violate the city’s Charter.

In February, 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.

But City Clerk Tina Flowers wrote in a May 30 email sent to aldermen that she objected to Sime’s proposal and that it would directly conflict with the city’s Charter, which states the city clerk “shall be a civil service employee.”

After reading the Call article, Miguel said, “It got me to thinking of the events of the past 16 months. I had full confidence in you, Mr. Sime, when you were presented to the board. I grilled you intensively for an hour, and I had full confidence in your ability to lead the city forward in a business-like manner.

“But I reflected on the events of the past 16 months. First event was (eliminating) animal control. I fully supported that move. It was obvious to me that that was a duplication of services. I had no problems with that. I was a little bit surprised in how quickly it occurred, but nevertheless that had my full support.”

Next, Miguel cited Sime’s decision to outsource the city’s information technology services to ThrottleNet, which he “found understandable.”

“The third event was the pooling of the secretaries. Again understandable, but as I found out later, it was not very well-handled,” Miguel said.

The fourth event, Miguel said, was the “firing” of an employee.

“Questionable from the beginning — at least in my mind. The decision was reversed by the Civil Service Board. Obviously … the firing was uncalled for,” he said.

“Fifth, the outsourcing of the finance department. Again, in my mind, a bad move from the get-go. I applaud the board for finally coming and voting 6 to nothing to reject that proposition … But at the same time, I admonish the board for taking so long in which to do that, and I regret the persistence of the administration in pursuing that particular line.”

That issue, Miguel said, brought him “to the top of the hill. What pushed me over was what I saw when I came back — the attempt to reclassify the city clerk.”

Miguel, who served on the board from 2004 to 2013, asked Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding and Ward 2 Alderman Time Trueblood if they recalled the reclassification issue being raised about nine years ago.

“I think that issue came to the board when — about 2005. It was handled very appropriately at this board, at least as my recollection is concerned, was brought up, was discussed and the issue was dropped. As a result of these actions, Mr. Sime, my confidence in you has been lost. I regret to say that. The question for the board — I present to the board is: What’s the next thing to be outsourced? Will it be police or will it be fire? …”

In a related matter, the Board of Aldermen postponed consideration of a proposed Charter amendment that would ask voters to place the city clerk’s position under the supervision of aldermen instead of the city administrator.

Trueblood, who had requested the proposed amendment be drafted, asked the board June 24 to postpone consideration of it.

“…I’ve asked that the proposed ordinance that was going to be put before the board tonight to vote on changing part of the Charter — or putting before the voters a ballot issue requesting a change in the Charter — be postponed until we have further time to review it,” he said. “Legal has brought some inconsistencies that need to be resolved. There’s a cost to doing that right now.

“I still think it has value. I want to keep it out there. It’s already been drawn up. But in the meantime, I think I want to spend a little time in reviewing this further, particularly the language in it as it relates to the current Charter …

“So with my apologies to the board, I’d like to postpone this and put it aside for awhile …,” he said, later adding he would bring it back to the board at a later date.

Trueblood’s proposal called for voters to consider whether aldermen should appoint the city clerk, who would be subject to the direction and supervision of the board. Under the proposed amendment, the post would remain a civil service position.