Antioch City Council to discuss recruiting new city manager during closed session Tuesday night

Barbanica wants public process in open session, says public lost confidence in last hire; Ogorchock says that’s the way it’s been done; mayor won’t say why it’s in closed session

By Allen D. Payton

The Antioch City Council is scheduled to discuss the recruitment of a new city manager in closed session during their meeting on Tuesday night, July 25, 2023. The item on the agenda released on Friday, July 21, is number 3 and reads, “PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT – RECRUITMENT OF CITY MANAGER. This closed session is authorized pursuant to Government Code section 54957(b). It follows Closed Session item 2 which is the Performance Evaluation of the City Attorney.”

During the Regular Meeting, the council will discuss under item 4, a new ordinance Prohibiting Retaliation and Harassment of Residential Tenants, under item 5, changing the speed limit on

certain streets and under item 7, calming improvements for Sycamore Drive, James Donlon Blvd. and West 10th Street. (See following article) Under item 8, the council will discuss hiring an outside contractor for homeless encampment cleanup.

Questions were emailed shortly before 3:00 p.m. that day to City Attorney Thomas L. Smith and Mayor Lamar Thorpe asking why the matter is being discussed during closed session instead of in open session, assuming it’s about hiring a search firm. They were also asked if that’s the direction the council will be going, will the selection process be done publicly with a request for quote or request for proposal sent out to hire a firm to do the search.

Smith’s auto-response email showed he was out of the office that day and wouldn’t return until today, Monday, and for immediate assistance to contact his secretary, Rakia Grant-Smith. Questions were then emailed to her. No response had been received as of 4:00 p.m. Monday. So, the questions were sent again to them and the other four council members.

Ogorchock Says That’s How It’s Been Done While She’s Been on Council

In response, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock wrote, “The agenda is always a surprise to me as it is for everyone else. I am not made aware of any items prior to receiving the agenda packet on Friday. As for the city manager, we, as council, need to start the conversation about next steps. Since I’ve been on council items for the city manager and city attorney have begun in closed session.”

Barbanica Wants Public Process in Open Session

“That’s what I asked to have happen,” said District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica referring to a video he posted on his official Facebook page and an email he sent to Acting City Manager Kwame Reed and City Attorney Smith last week. “I asked for an item on the next meeting agenda to authorize the council to start a search for the city manager.”

“I don’t see, generally, why it’s in closed session, unless there’s something I’m not aware of,” he stated. “It should be something we can take care of during regular session.”

“I confirmed the mayor set the agenda. The reason why that’s on there is so the council can talk privately,” Barbanica continued. “It doesn’t have to be in closed session. But it’s allowed. I told the city attorney I disagree with doing this in closed session. I want this done in open session because the public lost confidence in the last way the selection was made. That was done on a 3-2 vote. I did not vote for that, last time.”

“This appears to be non-transparent,” he stated. “I would like to see the public know what’s going on with who is saying what, how this is going down and what the discussion is.”

Other Agenda Items Requested by Barbanica

In addition to the city manager matter, in his email sent on Monday, July 17, Barbanica shared that he asked for two other items on Tuesday’s council meeting agenda. Those included a public presentation to the council by the police department on staffing levels, including patrol and every division, even the “sub-divisions” such as traffic being part of patrol. Finally, the councilman asked for the police department to present to the public how they are communicating information to the public through their PIO and to the press. Barbanica said he would like to understand the policy and where it came from.

No other responses were received. Please check back later for any updates to this report.

The Closed Session begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 200 H Street with opportunity for public comments before and the Regular Meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. The meetings can be viewed livestream on the City’s website, on Comcast Channel 24 or AT&T U-verse Channel 99. See the meeting agenda, here.

the attachments to this post:

Closed Session Council-Manager Form of Govt

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply