I'm not going to get into that aspect of the issue right now. Instead, I'm going to whine about newspaper articles and then give you the opportunity to read both the draft press release I had prepared but couldn't use and also the memo that served the same purpose.
In case you didn't see it on 22 April 2014 the Dayton Daily News printed an article titled, "Hiring process annoys mayor". Then has the summary, "City manager contract signed by McMasters despite his objections." Both these are right on point and get the message across that I was intending to make when I sat down Friday morning and drafted a Press Release that I thought would be another way to let the residents of Huber Heights know just those points. So actually, I'm not going to whine about the newspaper. I do believe that the article would have been more accurate if the first sentence in the article read; Huber Heights Mayor Tom McMasters considered removing himself from his mayoral duties for a 12 hour period on Friday in order to give Vice Mayor Tracy Dudley the authority to sign city manager Rob Schommer's contract, ..... I also would have preferred if the article referred to the document as a draft press release instead of a letter sent to the city. But I know when I write I often go back and change phrasing even days later. Since the article got the main point of my being disappointed with the process out to the public, I'm not going to complain that the article wasn't perfect.
For those interested though here are a few clarifying points.
I had drafted the press release below hoping to let the residents know that I was disappointed with the way the hiring process turned out. I had sent it to the City Lawyer Monday morning asking about the mechanism for what the requirements were for declaring the Mayor absent and kicking in the City Charter rule that makes the Vice Mayor assume the duties of the Mayor when that happens. In the meantime I went over to City Hall to talk with the Clerk of the Council to see if he could confirm that the Vice Mayor would be around to sign the contracts and, if the lawyer said we were good and the vice-Mayor was available, to prepare the Press Release in its final version. Turned out that the vice-Mayor was not available so the lawyer's opinion wasn't required. However, I probably should ask in case something else comes up that I would prefer not to sign.
I worked with the Clerk of the Council on an alternate plan. This turned out to be the memo that was attached to the contract when I signed it.
Below you can read the draft press release I took over to city council. The other thing that I felt needed to be done prior to releasing was confirm with the vice-Mayor that she was comfortable with my assertion that she was, "one of the greatest supporters of both the process and the contract". I put this in the draft and because it was quoted in the newspaper article I mention it here. However, I would have confirmed that she was comfortable with me making that assertion before I released it in a final version of the press release, if there had been a final release.
Draft Press Release
Council and Residents of Huber Heights,
Monday night Council passed legislation that authorized the Mayor to sign an employment agreement.
First let me apologize for my role in this process. Though I believe I've been emphatic in my objection to a process where the public is generally unaware of the discussion until right before a decision or vote is made, this occurred again on this issue. Worse yet, Monday morning, during a conversation with Mr. Schommer and Mr. Campbell, I told them I would be willing to accept the political consequences of not publically protesting the process.
Additionally, there are a couple misperceptions by council that I believe must be addressed.
The Huber Heights Courier conveyed that Mr. Lyons, "thanked Mayor McMasters for 'starting this motion to get this done'." Though a couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with Mr. Schommer in which I stated the same positive comments I've said publically and also indicated some areas of improvement which I have chosen not to state publically, I am unaware of how this turned into a perception by certain council members that I put this process in motion. I would be aghast if the public also started to believe this.
In the draft April 14, 2014 Administration Committee minutes Ms. Dudley is attributed to conveying that, "City Council and the Mayor have indicated their support for hiring Rob Schommer as the City Manager and for the amended City Manager contract, .....". Though it is true that I indicated my support for hiring Rob Schommer as City Manager, I never indicated support for either of the proposed City Manager contracts. In fact, if I had a vote in the Administration Committee I would have voted against recommending the contract to council and if I had been given the opportunity I would have vetoed the Ordinance authorizing either version of this Agreement.
I believed my position on the process and the resulting contract was clear. It is unfortunate that my conceding that council members were going to vote against my position was perceived by some members of council that I had changed my position. I ask that council members stop stating that I endorse the process or support this contract.
Today, Friday, April 18, 2014 from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm I will be absent and unavailable to perform the duties of the Mayor. As authorized by Section 4.04 of the Huber Heights City Charter Vice Mayor Tracey Dudley will be acting Mayor during this time period. This is very appropriate because it gives one of the greatest supporters of both the process and the contract an opportunity to authorize the Agreement with her signature.
Thomas F. McMasters