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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Police Chief Termination Major Topic Of Marysville City Council Meeting – 9/27/2021

A determined group of citizens marched to city hall for the council meeting Monday, with several dozen waiting outside when the doors opened to a standing room crowd. Public comments were passionate, and at times lengthy, centered on the recent dismissal of long time Police Chief Todd Ackerman. City Attorney John McNish read a prepared statement that a longstanding practice as to personnel issues was being followed, and that a grievance process was in place. He added that the governing body responsibility was to ensure that the police department is operating in accordance with the mission and goals outlined. He closed thanking the chief for his years of service to the community. McNish later inserted that termination for cause was allowable, and referenced any type of misfeasance, or malfeasance could be considered cause.

Jamie Anderson led a long line of questioning with regard to a series of actions by the council resulting in a code book change and clarification of a 2011 code that defined which positions were under the jurisdiction of the city administrator. Mayor Jason Barnes replied that the intent was to strip some of the powers of the mayor. She asked clarification of the draft, and how it was initiated. Comment on the grievance process, and lack of transparency in the dismissal were questioned. Rex Estes spoke and had reached out to Ackerman who advised that a hearing had not been held, and he has not been made aware of what prompted his dismissal. Estes closed commenting that “ya gotta know what you’re grievin’.”

Former mayor Mert Ott chastised the council for giving full authority to hire and fire to the city administrator. Ott asked if he were indeed the administrator or city manager and suggested that the council buy out the contract of Austin St. John and send him on.

A number of others spoke in favor of Ackerman’s previous performance, and contributions to the community, many questioning the transparency of the process, and noting that a reason for dismissal has not been provided.

Councilman Todd Frye asked if it were too late to do the right thing and have a conversation with Todd Ackerman. He asked if there were a reason that council could or could not ask for an executive session with Ackerman in attendance. The city attorney suggested several times that Ackerman file a grievance. There was some confusion if the window for filing had passed, and several citizens demanded that a reason for termination never been provided. Councilman Keith Beikman questioned the call of a previous executive session. A back-and-forth battle continued as to why Ackerman was dismissed. Frye interjected again that “we need to get the wheels rolling so that we can have that conversation.” After nearly an hour, the mayor moved the meeting along, to other business without a definite reference as to future action.

Later in the meeting, a pair of executive sessions were held for the purpose of discussing personnel and potential litigation, including the city attorney, and city contracted legal counsel, with no binding decisions made. Reconvening, councilman Kieth Beikman asked the city attorney what the steps were necessary to rescind a previous motion. John McNish advised that a new ordinance could be brought forward to go back, and have department heads as defined report to, and remain under the direction of the city council. Following brief discussion at to city charter ordinances, meeting was adjourned.

A request was approved for hosting the MHS homecoming parade Friday afternoon from 1:30 – 3:30, blocking Broadway from 12th to 8th street, and restricting parking. The Berean Church requested permission to improve drainage and add a tube that would allow expansion of the church parking lot off North Street. It prompted a broader discussion as to the need for a drainage study, with future options for adjacent properties that might be considered.

Permission was granted for blocking Broadway for the annual Black Squirrel Night Thursday, October 28, which will kick off a yearlong 50th anniversary celebration of the designation of Marysville as the Black Squirrel City.

A proposal at a rate of some $7,000 annually to add a tracking device to all city owned vehicles was reduced to a motion to monitor the street sweeper, which failed on a 2-5 vote. Another motion to monitor the street sweeper, and police department vehicles brought further discussion, and resulted in a 4-3 vote to approve. Updates include work continuing at the airport, and concrete for the fire station underway, with work to start soon on a portion of 11th Road, and extension of Hartley Ridge Drive north to Jayhawk Road. Water line project work continues, and outfield lights at Feldhausen Field have been delivered, and are awaiting installation.

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