(July 7, 2007) -- LBReport.com has learned that Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske has prepared a draft letter scheduled for transmittal to Councilmembers and Mayor Bob Foster on Monday July 9, calling for an City Council public work study session at which to discuss -- in open session -- the Council's expectations for recently-named interim City Manager Tony Batts...as well as his salary.
Councilwoman Schipske's letter notes that the decision to appoint Batts as interim City Manager came quickly and "[i]t is critical, therefore, that the Council have the opportunity to collectively set out its expectations for Mr. Batts as soon as possible" so that Mr. Batts "has a clear understanding of the direction of our legislative body.".
Her letter also invokes part of the CA's Brown ("open meetings") Act (Gov't Code section 54947): "The 'personnel exception' allows legislative bodies to go into closed session only regarding the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline or dismissal of a public employee," Councilwoman Schipske's text indicates...to which she adds, "We cannot and should not have this discussion with City Manager Batts in closed session."
Councilwoman Schipske's letter continues, "The Council needs to set his salary by vote in open session as well and that item needs to be placed on the agenda. Government Code § 54947 specifically states "[C]losed sessions held pursuant to this section shall not include discussion or action on proposed compensation except for a reduction of compensation that results from the imposition of discipline."
On July 3, Councilwoman Schipske joined in 9-0 closed-session Council vote to appoint Chief Batts as Interim City Manager (during recruitment of a permanent replacement for retired City Manager Jerry Miller)...but she cast the sole dissenting vote against removal of then-Acting City Manager Christine Shippey.
Writing a few hours later on her public internet journal ("blog"), Councilwoman Schipke opined that the "City Charter does not provide for the Council to appoint an “interim” — we can only appoint a City Manager. I disagree that Shippey holding the “acting” City Manager position (and doing it well) would discourage anyone who really wanted to be considered for City Manager of California’s 5th largest city. I was concerned about the message this action might send. I was out voted."
In a blog entry today (July 7), Counciwoman Schipske pursues the issue:
I voted against removing Assistant City Manager Chris Shippey from her position as City Manager because it sends the wrong message to the senior city staff and I do think the move actually harms Shippey’s chances of being selected to replace Gerry Miller. (It violates every theory of organizational behavior for maintaining a strong, cohesive management team– because Batts reported to Shippey.)
I also voted against the action because the City Charter is very clear that we could not name an “interim” or “acting” City Manager. We could only appoint a City Manager and can only remove a City Manager with 5 votes of the council.
That being said, I did vote in support of placing Chief Anthony Batts in the position of City Manager pending the outcome of the recruitment the City is doing to hire a new City Manager. I feel that Tony needs the support of the entire City Council.
Okay. Now that this was done in closed session and announced in open session it’s time we move to the next step.
Councilwoman Schipske's letter asks that the Council study session be held on the last Tuesday of July.
Earlier this year on the recommendation of then-City Manager Jerry Miller, the Council authorized entering into a long-term employment agreement with Chief Batts...amid management, Council, co-worker and public plaudits for his accomplishments as Police Chief.