Council Member Eddie Neal had liaison second thoughts
Council Member Eddie Neal had liaison second thoughts

A widely expected amendment that would have created a council liaison failed to get the necessary three votes on the second reading of the ordinance during the July 2 council meeting. Just two weeks ago, at least three council members waived the initial reading of the ordinance and its passage seemed assured Tuesday night but for the reluctance of Edward Neal, who indicated he may no longer favor the idea.

The liaison is the brainchild of Mayor Billy Siegel and Council Member John Gordon to keep council members and the public better informed of important daily business proceedings.

Under Siegel’s plan the council liaison could be any council member or a member of the public who resides within the city limits. The liaison would be informed of any important meetings related to city business and could attend and participate in the meetings with the city manager.

The proposed liaison would have required council action to allow a liaison, whether a member of the public or a council member to sit in on meetings with the city manager. At the last council meeting, council member John Gordon suggested that Mayor Siegel take on that role, though no formal action was taken.

Council members Willard Rodarmel and Lois Wynne objected to the liaison position two weeks ago. Neal was the member who had second thoughts, particularly after he said he spoke with members of the public. “They said we don’t need this,” he reiterated. “I’m going with what the community says.”

At issue with some in the community is that they felt that the liaison proposal was just another effort to micromanage staff, including the city manager.

“This liaison I feel like is micro-managing the city manager,” said Connie Wlaschin.

Siegel, in arguing for the liaison told council members a liaison is needed for the public’s right to know what’s going on with their city. “We’re not trying to micromanage,” he said. “It’s a matter of checks and balances.”

Siegel seemed to blame the need for a liaison on former city manager Jeff Briltz, who the council unceremoniously forced out earlier this year. “With the former city manager, I don’t feel that I was informed. I’m hearing things now that I should have known then,” said Siegel. “People ask me questions. Why was the city allowed to this to us? I don’t know because I didn’t get the information.”

Gordon supported the concept of a liaison. “We have a responsibility to keep informed, and we’re here to act on behalf of our constituents.”

Siegel was adamant about the liaison suggesting that the public doesn’t know what former city manager Briltz steered away from the city, and neither do we,” he said. Siegel even cited the case of a constituent who he claims had less than desirable negotiations with Briltz involving a parcel of land. Siegel claimed the landowner had a bitter taste in his mouth after dealing with the former city manager.

If there is no liaison then council members will indeed start micromanaging, insisted Siegel. “Councilmembers will be calling the city manager every day wanting to know what meeting he has.”

“Let’s think about this a little more and go from there,” reasoned Neal.

Gordon suggesting holding off the vote and seeking a solution that might satisfy all council members. “Let’s find a solution that works for everybody,” he said.