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City Council sets executive session for Wednesday to discuss manager position

By Mike Pettinella

Batavia City Council, in an effort to get a "head start" on the task of finding a new city manager, has called an executive session for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the City Centre Council Board Room.

Officially designated as a special business meeting, the session will not be open to the public, Council President Eugene Jankowski said this afternoon.

"This will be completely an executive session, since there has been no gathering of Council to discuss the next step (in light of Jason Molino's resignation on Dec. 18)," Jankowski said. "Our thought is to get a head start on everything that needs to be done to find a successor -- which procedures to follow, Jason's exit plan and the best direction to take."

The Tompkins County Legislature formally appointed Molino as the new Tompkins County Administrator on Dec. 19, effective Jan. 29.

Jankowski said Molino will be an "integral part" of Wednesday's informational meeting, which he said was proper since this deals with a "personnel matter."

"I just talked to Jason about an hour ago, and he said that his concern is that the city is left in proper hands when he leaves," said Jankowski, adding that he wasn't sure of Molino's last day on the job in Batavia.

(The Batavian has just learned that Molino's last day as city manager will be Jan. 12).

The council president said it was imperative that all council members "get on the same page to weigh all of our options."

Those options include whether or not to hire a job search consultant, whether or not to appoint an interim city manager, and whether or not to focus on the city manager appointment and put the vacant assistant city manager position on hold.

"Hopefully, as a result of the executive session, will be able to discuss the situation publicly at the January 8th meeting," Jankowski said. "As of right now, there are a lot of unanswered questions."

Brian Graz

I'm not a Roberts Rule expert, but doing some research I believe that this proposed "closed - executive session" meeting is illegal.

It appears that a "closed - executive session" should be part of a regular meeting, and that there are definitely several other criteria necessary to substantiate an executive session. (see below)

{{{Executive session is a motion to go into executive session. It is regularly a main motion [RONR (10th ed.), pp. 92, 93 §10, pp. 95ff]. It requires a second, is debatable, and requires a majority vote for adoption. The conduct of business in executive session follows the regular rules of order, including the form and content of the minutes, pp. 451-456.

Going into executive session is a question of privilege of the assembly [RONR, 11th ed. p.227], so the president alone does not make the decision, you can either have someone move to go into executive session, which requires a majority vote, or, probably preferably, the president can ask for unanimous consent by saying "if there is no objection, we will move into executive session at this time".

Executive Session means that the proceedings are secret. [That is not a valid purpose for a special meeting to be called] It is no different than calling a meeting for the purpose of holding a meeting. At a special meeting, only business mentioned on the call can be transacted. So, such a call would not allow for any business to take place. At any meeting, special or not, the assembly may go into executive session.}}}

Dec 26, 2017, 7:00pm Permalink
John Roach

The City Charter allows for Special Meetings to be called. It should start as a modified (no need for committee reports and such) regular meeting then have a vote to go into the Executive Session right away. This has been done before, so it is not new.

Dec 26, 2017, 8:34pm Permalink
Brian Graz

To share an excellent FB thought this issue received...

{{{Why would anything pertaining to the replacement/hiring of a new city manager be in a closed meeting. How do the employees [city council] tell the taxpayers [their bosses] that we they are meeting but you have no right to hear what we’re doing. Does not make sense to me.}}}

Dec 26, 2017, 9:43pm Permalink
Eugene Jankowski Jr

This is an exit interview and exit plan informational meeting. There are laws that protect Employee’s right to privacy when discussing personal and personnel matters with their employer. Let’s avoid the blood in the water conspiracy theory. The public discussion and official city manager search process decisions will begin at the January 8 council meeting.

Dec 27, 2017, 8:45am Permalink
Dave Meyer

Thanks for the update. It's clear that time is of the essence.
It would have been helpful if the purpose (beyond the obvious) of the meeting was stated so that the tin foil hat brigade wasn't upset.

Dec 27, 2017, 10:13am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I spoke with Mr. Jankowski yesterday about this and the conversation left me assured that what happens in closed session will be strictly "exit interview" material. The conversation will not include anything related to the process of the transition.

All conversations among council members about whether to hire an interim manager and the process for hiring a new city manager, until the point that it gets down to specific candidates, should (and legally must) be held in open session.

Dec 27, 2017, 10:19am Permalink

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