Push made to limit Grantville city manager
by W. Winston Skinner
Grantville Mayor Jim Sells broke the tie to halt efforts by two council members to get rid of City Manager Johnny Williams and curtail his authority.
“Our city manager is ill, and so is our attorney,” Sells announced as Monday’s meeting opened. Following discussion about a streets and public works position, Councilman Johnny Cooks deemed as “unacceptable” Williams’ actions in delaying the promotion of an employee.
Cooks then made a motion to start a search for a new city manager. The motion was seconded by Barham Lundy.
“I think that’s really a low thing to do when the man’s not even here,” Councilwoman Selma Coty remarked.
Cooks was not done with his proposal. “Also, in addition to that, I think we need to terminate – until review by the city council, any promotions or demotions,” he said. Hiring, promoting and firing are generally decisions made by the city manager.
Cooks said there is “some hiring and firing of personnel who have worked very well” in process.
Sells paused for a moment after Cooks’ comments. “I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I’m disheartened.”
A vote was taken on searching for a new city manager. Lundy and Cooks voted yes, and Coty and Rochelle Jabaley voted no. The mayor broke the tie – voting with the nays.
“If we’re not going to start a search,” Cooks said, “there are several other issues we have with employees.” He said he wanted to see some restriction on Williams’ ability to hire, promote and fire.
“I can’t vote for anything like that,” Coty said – saying she was not privy to the problems. Cooks countered that he had discussed the issues in closed session meetings of the council.
“To be ignorant all of a sudden is inexcusable,” Cooks said.
“Excuse me,” Coty responded indignantly.
Cooks said he had concerns about “legal issues that have occurred because of the management” of city business. He also said he is unhappy with how Williams has overseen the staff.
“There have been no evaluations done,” Cooks said. The issue has been discussed, but “nothing’s happened and yet we’re moving forward with some decisions on personnel.”
The motion to limit Williams’ authority failed with the same people voting in favor and against.
“What we have effectively just done is – whether appropriate or inappropriate – is pull the rug out from under our city manager. I can assure you, he will be looking for a new job in the morning at 8 a.m.,” Sells said.
Jabaley asked if talking with Williams about the issues might help.
“Half the problem is us. We are not managing him very well,” Cooks said.
“Probably 80 percent of it is us.”
A proposal to create a new assistant city manager post was tabled until the next meeting at the request of Sells. The meeting closed with the council meeting in closed session to discuss personnel issues.