Mayor calls out councilman over email

Mayor Davis calls out Staniszewski over alert system email

March 4, 2013
Washington Councilman Terry Faust, left, solicitor Lane Turturice and Mayor Brenda Davis are shown inside City Hall during executive session Monday night. - Christie Campbell / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A Washington councilman was reprimanded by the mayor Monday night for calling a friend gay while sending out an email testing a citywide alert system.

During Monday’s City Council agenda meeting, Mayor Brenda Davis asked Councilman Matt Staniszewski why he sent out a test alert of the city’s transit system using what she deemed an unprofessional remark.

The email read “Alert: This is an test. Brian is gay.”

“This is inappropriate for the city of Washington,” she said, noting an individual who had signed up to receive such alerts was offended and contacted the city.

Staniszewski said the comment referred to a college friend, but added it would be wrong to assume he was attaching an insulting connotation to the word, “when we all know that the word means happy.”

“It’s not very professional to do business like this,” Davis responded. “Coming from the city of Washington, it does not look good for us.”

Davis added she planned to ask Lane Turturice, the city’s solicitor, to look into the contract the city has with the IT company that handles the website for Washington City Transit.

Those were not the only words exchanged between Davis and Staniszewski during the meeting which, after three hours, adjourned into executive session to discuss personnel issues and possible litigation.

Davis questioned Staniszewski about bids for eight stormwater inlet replacement projects, which she said were never brought before her or council. She said she learned of the project when she saw it advertised in the Observer-Reporter.

Staniszewski said the projects fall under his jurisdiction as director of Public Works and it is standard operating procedure for him or any other member of council to seek estimates on matters that concern their departments.

“We don’t micromanage each other’s departments,” he said.

Resident Georganne Farkus asked who makes the decision to close City Hall because of snow or an emergency.

She was referring to a decision made by three council members to close the building and dismiss employees early because of a snowstorm Jan. 25. Davis had objected to the closing noting other businesses and the county office buildings remained open.

Turturice said the state’s third class city code does not designate an elected official whose responsibility it is to close City Hall because of snow. However, there is a provision for the mayor to declare an emergency, he said. In absence of a rule he said it would be up to the majority of council.

Farkus requested council come up with a procedure for closing City Hall and have a resolution for it put on the council’s agenda for its Thursday meeting.

“Can we not bash? I’m just asking for a system in place so this doesn’t happen again,” Farkus said. “I respect all of you guys.”

Prior to the meeting Councilman Ken Westcott explained he had shoveled the sidewalk in front of City Hall that day. In two and one-half hours, no one had entered the building so he saw no reason not to dismiss the five employees early.

He also said the cost to taxpayers amounted to $137.



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