April 17, 2014

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Oberlin Council votes to censure member

‘Nobody’s going to stifle me,’ councilman says

OBERLIN — City Councilman Tony Mealy said Council is trying to “muzzle” him by voting 4 to 3 to censure him for speaking to a newspaper reporter about what happened in an executive session about selection of a new city manager.

“Nobody’s going to stifle me,” said Mealy, a retired state correctional counselor and former air traffic controller.
“I had a big laugh — what are they going to do, put this in my personnel file?”

Mealy

The censure stated Mealy’s comments to The Chronicle in a story Aug. 2 “constitutes a serious violation of the confidentiality” about an executive session of Council on July 5.

At the time, Mealy told The Chronicle that Council members with the exception of David Ashenhurst wanted to hire former Durham City Manager Marcia Conner, who, in the end, decided to take herself out of the running to stay on as city manager in Atlantic Beach, S.C.

The letter of censure addressed to Mealy stated that council “is resolved not to condone further action of this kind” and that it is Council’s “hope that this is the last time an admonition of this sort is deemed necessary.”

The censure passed Monday night with Council President Daniel Gardener voting yes along with Ashenhurst, Charles Peterson and Eve Sandberg.

Mealy voted no along with Vice President Ronnie Rimbert and Everett Tyree.

Law Director Eric Severs said he cautioned Council that its rules do not specifically prohibit talking about what occurred in executive session, but Council rules state it abides by Roberts Rules of Order which protect secrecy of an executive session.

Meanwhile, Council met in executive session Tuesday to interview Eric Norenberg, the information technology services leader for Mesa, Ariz., for the post of city manager, according to a news release from Council Clerk Belinda Anderson.

Council will again meet behind closed doors at 9 a.m. Thursday to evaluate Norenberg’s candidacy. It will also decide whether additional candidates should be interviewed.

The city has been looking for a new city manager since Rob DiSpirito left in January to become city manager of Dunedin, Fla.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.