Cleveland City Council still divided on path to hire new city manager

Cleveland City Council appears to be on the course to hire Interim City Manager Stacey Williams as its new city manager even though the interim city manager and city manager positions have not been posted nor advertised. At the Feb. 15 monthly city council meeting, Councilmembers Carolyn McWaters, James Franklin and Delores Terry voted 3-2 to authorize the city attorney to negotiate a contract with Williams despite protests from Mayor Richard Boyett, Councilmembers Marilyn Clay and Danny Lee, and members of the community who spoke in public comments.

Before the vote, Clay motioned to table it until council members came to an agreement on the recruiting process for city manager candidates. Lee seconded her motion, but they were the only persons in favor of it, so the motion failed.

“We are dealing with a situation here, and most of you have already heard about it,” Clay said, referring to the audience, “where there was a special-called meeting. Three of the council members – and three is the majority – voted to put an interim city manager in place. We didn’t have any information on this person. We didn’t even have a resume.”

Clay stated that Williams does not have the credentials, education or experience to lead the City of Cleveland.

“He was already hired here as a public works manager, and this has nothing to do with him as a person because they put him in this place. It’s just the whole process. I feel like we owe it to the people to do a process that can recruit a candidate that is suitable for the position. We were elected by the people. As elected officials, we are supposed to go through the process to find the best candidate for that position. We are a growing city. We have a lot of things out there, a lot of negotiations, a lot of financial input, a lot of strategies and comprehensive planning to do,” she said.

Lee added that he believes the situation is an “embarrassment” for Cleveland.

“What business owner would hire somebody and they haven’t interviewed anybody else? I am sitting on this board and I am like, ‘Wait a minute.’ There are qualifications you must have. I have met our public works director and he seems to be a great guy. I actually feel bad for him for being put in this position, but I am obligated to the citizens of Cleveland. This is wrong,” Lee said.

In public comments, residents addressed how the council appears to be aligned so that three council members can pass whatever actions they support. Among the commenters was Fred Terrell, who previously served as president of the EDC board until he was replaced by the three council members at a previous meeting. Terrell said the council appears to be changing its qualifications for positions as it suits them.

He cited situations where longtime members of the community wanted to run for city council but were prevented from doing so because of the rule that requires candidates to live in the city for 12 months prior to seeking a council seat.

“Whether it was a good rule or not, it was a rule and we have to abide by it,” Terrell said.

However, rules appear to be bent when it favors the council, he said, such as when the city council wanted to hire a city manager who lived outside the city and now when the requirement for a city manager is that the person must have a college degree.

Longtime Cleveland resident and business owner Burnest “Slick” Mitchell agreed with Terrell, adding, “Three people can control the council and I think some kind of way that needs to be changed. When it’s like that, we are going to see one-sided situations. I think everybody ought to have an equal shot at what’s going on.”

Councilwoman Terry pushed back against any suggestion that she and the other two councilmembers are part of a walking quorum, meaning they have discussed matters ahead of time and decided how to vote.

“There is no quorum here. There is no meetings here. There will be no meetings, period, because I don’t do that at all. There is nothing wrong with Mr. Stacey. He is giving his best, his all,” Terry said.

She claims that city employees she has spoken to are in favor of keeping Williams on as city manager.

McWaters agreed with the suggestion of keeping Williams in the position and made a motion to authorize City Attorney David Olson to enter into negotiations with Williams.

“I am not going to speak to everything that has been said, but I think Mr. Williams is a good candidate for this position,” she said.

McWaters asked Olson to have a negotiated contract ready to bring back to council the following week; however, he said he would be unable to meet that deadline due to personal commitments and would need another week.

Mayor Richard Boyett asked McWaters why there is such a rush to put Williams into that position without hearing from other candidates.

“What is such an emergency that you want to get this done so fast? Is there something under the table that we don’t know about? There is something. There’s got to be. You are wanting to put a man to work that doesn’t know a damn thing,” he said, causing a loud gasp from the audience.

McWaters reminded the mayor that she had made a motion and it had been seconded.

When the mayor called for a vote, the motion passed 3-2 with McWaters, Franklin and Terry voting in favor of it and Lee and Clay against it.

When the vote was over, Boyett, still obviously miffed at the process, told the audience, “Folks, you have the right to vote in a couple of months to change this. If you don’t, then you are just going to sit here and let these three people run the city, and that’s just wrong.”

In other business, Council:

  • approved an in-kind request from Brian Latham to use Stancil Exposition Rodeo Arena for a memorial scholarship rodeo on Nov. 12;
  • approved renaming Beach Ave. to Earnest Carrington Sr. Ave.; and
  • approved a financing plan to purchase a new ladder truck for Cleveland Fire Department.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Here we go! Does this BS sound familiar? Go out and vote to keep this kind of stuff from happening to Cleveland!

  2. They want to hire a man who has no city management experience? Why? What is in it for them? As a city tax payer this is disturbing.

    • Actually he has over 30 years of City Management experience and has retired from a city already. They didn’t hire him without seeing a resume, that’s ridiculous.

      • I’m sure Mr. Williams served the City of Humble well, as the Street Superintendent, but that hardly qualifies him to be a city manager here or any other city.

  3. Sounds like those three were trying to be shady and obviously have ulterior motives. The tax paying citizens see your true colors now. So glad there is an election coming up!

    • I Believe they should at least have 1year college and lived in the City 2 or more years to get to know the surroundings and the the PEOPLES..MOSTLY LEARN THE AREA IN WHICH THEY WANT TO REPRESENT..

  4. Lee is correct, Cleveland’s City management is an “embarrassment”. Why would you not, at minimum follow the hiring practices of McDonald’s? I have been a resident for a short time, and in that short time I have seen Cleveland’s potential, This is not the way to achieve it.

  5. I was raised in Cleveland Texas and this is such an embarrassment, and unfortunately I go against the 2 council members and mayor on this one. The last City Manager did not go through an interview process, he was appointed to the position in the exact same way and didn’t have experience as a City Manger. There are some hidden agenda’s and bone digging going on here and appears they have found a sacrificial lamb in the process.

    • Bobby Pennington was our Assistant City Manager and Finance Director for five years before he became the City Manager. His qualifications speak for themselves.

  6. The former city manager had been employed by the city for 9 years and was finance director and assistant City manager had several degrees in finance and business management and all of the required certification .He was qualified and left for a better paying job with a larger city. He paid his dues and has a bright future in the corporate world. CJean you are comparing apples to oranges totally fake news

  7. Seems to me there may be some self serving agendas going on. Those wanting an unqualified city manager at a time Cleveland is in an important developmental time without any discussion as to why is telling. The two who opposed voiced their reasons to search for the best candidate available. There have been discussions as to the character and intelligence of the three who seem to have pre-planned this outcome? Discussion of city business anywhere but in a public forum is illegal. An investigation could be warranted. City council members like these are the reason eating establishments and big chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot avoid our city. Cleveland taxpayers deserve better than this.

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