CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Clarksburg City Council met Thursday evening and held a second and final reading of an ordinance eliminating the position of assistant city manager.
Council voted six to one to pass the second and final reading of that ordinance with Councilman, Jim Malfregeot, in opposition. Also, council voted on and approved a resolution to increase the annual gross salary of Interim City Manager, Annette Wright, for the duration of time as interim city manager; that was amended and approved raising her salary from $90,000 to $95,000 annually.
“We’re going to be moving forward. It is my understanding by speaking with our interim city manager that in just the next few days we’re going to be officially opening the window to look for a police chief. And then the city manager position will follow shortly after that,” said Ryan Kennedy, Mayor of the City of Clarksburg.
Soon the City of Clarksburg will be advertising the open position of city manager and police chief and accepting applications to those wishing to fulfill those vacancies.
“The city managers deal was consummated and three of us were not included. And the charter reads that it is supposed to be by a vote of council. This is the taxpayer’s money, this is your money people, this was $230,000 plus. I just want to know where it came from and why the three councilmen, Mr. Ferrari, Mr. Goff, and myself were not included in on any of these negotiations,” said Jim Malfregeot, Clarksburg Council Member.
Mayor Kennedy said that the situation with former city manager Marin Howe has been resolved and now council can focus on moving the city forward.
I have a motion for consideration of a resolution to be taken out of order under section 115.11 (g) of our charter.
Section 115.11 (g) of the charter provides that a member is permitted to introduce an ordinance, resolution or motion out of the regular order.
The motion is permitted by a majority vote of the members present, however, some council members have a conflict which prevents them from voting o this motion as well as the resolution it seeks.
As a member of this council I was dismayed to learn that the lawsuit filed by our City Manager, Martin Howe, was resolved through negotiations conducted by two (2) lawyers whose hiring was never approved by this council. The City of Clarksburg has a charter mandated city attorney who appears to have been excluded from this matter.
It appears that this lawsuit naming certain members of this council as conspiring defendants has been settled with a vote of this council authorizing any such settlement. It further appears that a payment in excess of $230,000 has been made from city funds, once again, without any affirmative vote of this council.
Section 163.01 of our ordinances permits the city manager, with the concurrence of council by resolution or motion, to indemnify with city funds these alleged conspiring defendants members of council. There has been no concurrence of council but the money agreed to by someone has been paid with taxpayer money.
Section 163.05 of our ordinances only permits settlements of lawsuit to be made with approval of this council. These alleged conspiring defendants appear to be above the law of our city as they have settled a lawsuit against them with taxpayer money and no vote of this council.
I am at a complete loss to understand this unilateral action by these conspiring defendants to protect themselves with public money. It is inconceivable that our interim city manager and these alleged conspiring defendants would believe that they had the power and authority under the charter and ordinances of this city to make such a payment without an appropriate public vote of this council.
It appears to me that such conduct may constitute official misconduct, neglect of duty and/or incompetence as provided by West Virginia code 6-6-1. This conduct appears to include the waste or misappropriation of public money in a manner inappropriate pr inconsistent with the lawful duties of a member of this council.
IT is clear to me that any failure on my part to take action which I now seek could be construed as neglect of my duty as a member of this council to ensure that public monies are spent appropriately and not for the personal benefit of individual members of this council. Accordingly, I call upon unconflicted members of this council and by that I mean those members who were not alleged in the lawsuit filed by our city manager to be conspiring defendants, to pass a resolution requesting the prosecuting attorney of Harrison county conduct an investigation as provided by West Virginia code 6-6-7 into the conduct of these alleged conspiring defendants with respect to the allegations of the complaint against them by our city manager as well as the conduct which may have been taken by one or more of them to pay off our city manager thus eliminating the lawsuit against them with public money.
Without question, all of these actions have taken place outside of the official approval of this council as required by the charter and ordinances of this city, as well as outside of the view of our citizens.Jim Malfregeot