Roby casts deciding vote against proposed Charter amendment

If board had OK’d measure, mayor would have vetoed it

By Mike Anthony

Crestwood Mayor Gregg Roby cast a tie-breaking vote last week against an ordinance to put a Charter amendment on the April ballot that would have asked voters to place the city clerk’s position under the supervision of aldermen.

Aldermen deadlocked 4-4 on the ordinance at the board’s Sept. 9 meeting.

In favor of the measure were Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood, Ward 3 Aldermen Paul Duchild and Bill Boston and board President Mike Tsichlis of Ward 4.

Opposed were Ward 1 Aldermen Darryl Wallach and Richard Breeding, Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter 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.

The amendment sought to have voters decide whether the clerk would report directly to aldermen, who also would supervise the clerk. Under the Charter, the clerk’s post is a civil service position and would have remained so under the amendment.

Roby told the Call that even if the ordinance had been approved by aldermen, he would have vetoed the measure because he believes the issue should be considered by the Charter Review Commission, which will convene next year.

Asked about his vote, he said, “There were a number of options to that situation. Quite frankly, the reason I broke the tie with a ‘no’ is because I have always been a fan of the Charter (Review) Commission reviewing that. And, in fact, the last time the Charter Commission was convened, I was told they did consider that and decided not to put that before the voters.”

The mayor cited the relationship between former City Clerk Tina Flowers, who resigned in July, and several aldermen.

“… I feel like the relationships between the previous city clerk and several of the aldermen on the board were very close, and I appreciate the fact that they were looking out for her, but I believe that the Charter Commission is really where that decision needs to be made,” Roby said, adding that he did not “want to drag this thing out, so to basically take action in this meeting I felt was most appropriate.”

“The other options would have been let it go, vote ‘yes,’ put it forward for a second reading, which would not have moved forward that night because there was other opposition to that,” he continued. “So I knew someone would vote ‘no’ for a second reading, which meant it would be delayed until the next meeting.”

At the next meeting, the board’s vote likely would have been 4-4, Roby said, “in which case I would have had the opportunity to vote ‘no’ again on this issue, which would have killed it. But it would have pushed it another meeting and added another item to the agenda.”

Another scenario he outlined was the possibility that “someone on the ‘no’ side wasn’t at the meeting, and so we only had seven members and it ended up where it was, say 4-3. And my vote wouldn’t have made any difference because there was no tie. So I would have had to veto it, and by vetoing it, it would then come to the next meeting, and then they would have had six of the eight in order to get it passed to override my veto. And they wouldn’t have gotten that, and it would have killed it anyway.

“So I just decided to kill it at this first meeting, let the Charter Commission handle it when I convene that after the first of the year and move forward from there.”

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.

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.

Trueblood asked City Attorney Lisa Stump at the board’s May 27 meeting to draft an ordinance to place the 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.

At that meeting, aldermen voted 5-3 to have Stump draft the ordinance for the Charter amendment, with Stadter voting in favor of having the ordinance drafted.

During a discussion of the proposal at the Sept. 9 meeting, Tsichlis said, “I do strongly support this proposal. I support it based on the common practice of most municipalities, the majority which do have this form of reporting structure set up — organizational relationship set up. And there must be a reason for that …”

Wallach reiterated his opposition to the proposal, noting that voters would have to be educated about the reason for the change if the ordinance moved forward.

“… What I haven’t heard from the board (is) why the change? I recognize there’s other municipalities that have this feature, but it can’t just be that,” he said. “You must state a reason why the change. It’s been in place for 19 years, the current position as it’s at now. What has changed in that 19 years to reflect that there’s a need to go to the city clerk to (report) directly to the Board of Aldermen?

“I don’t know what’s changed. Maybe again, that’s something the board needs to educate myself, which will be a voter, as well as the citizens. What’s changed in 19 years? …”

Stadter said, “I voted in favor of this (Aug. 12) not necessarily because I was in favor of the change but because I didn’t have a problem with it going in front of our voters. However, looking at this and listening to my colleagues … I did have a couple of comments to make. One of the other aldermen stated that most cities or a majority of cities around here have that structure.

“I don’t think that was a true statement. We were saying — if I recall correctly at the last meeting ­ — that by making this change and also keeping the role as a civil service employee, we were setting a precedent, that that was not the case in the other places where they reported to the board. They were no longer a civil service employee, so that was one question that I had,” she said.

“And the other issue that I have with this now, looking at it, is even if this is passed by the voters, the proposed amendment won’t take effect until July 1, 2015. I’m not sure we need to have such a big rush on this. It might make good sense to have this reviewed — because we’re going to have a Charter committee coming up again in 2015. It might make sense to let the new Charter committee look at this and make recommendations before we make the change and put it on the ballot …”