City Commission to Consider Performance Review for City Manager, Vows to Work Together
The stage was set for a lengthy Covington City Commission meeting on Tuesday night.
The regularly scheduled legislative meeting followed days of speculation, heated backroom conversations, dozens of emails, and long threads on social media about the fate of City Manager Larry Klein.
Late last week it seemed possible that Klein would be deposed or allowed to resign, an option bolstered by the emergence of former state senator Joe Meyer as a possible interim replacement.
But then the emails and phone calls started to pour into City Hall from business and neighborhood leaders urging the city's leaders to stay the course and to, if not keep Klein unscathed following the revelation by the state auditor that former finance director Bob Due allegedly stole nearly $800,000, consider implementing a performance review policy.
City Hall's commission chamber was full of spectators, some of whom had circulated emails encouraging supporters of Klein to show up and voice their concerns.
The city commission breezed through a short agenda in a little more than half an hour and when public comments arrived, only two people spoke. Neither addressed the city manager issue.
Mayor Sherry Carran said after the second speaker that anyone who wished to speak but failed to sign up should do so at that moment.
And then came the commissioners' turn to speak. What followed was a drastic departure from the distressed uncertainty of what to do and the consistent dysfunction that so often claimed cooperation at previous meetings throughout their term.
Instead of rancor and unpleasant discourse, there was an apology and a vow to work together more effectively moving forward.
"All of this I know is a little devastating for Larry, so I do want to apologize to you, Larry, personally for in any way hurting your family in this," Commissioner Michelle Williams said. "I've been through it and I don't think your life should be dragged out on Facebook."
"I think the community involvement was very welcome," Eilerman said. "A community that's engaged, that's a positive."
Frank said the decision will "let things calm down a bit". "This will improve everyone's effectiveness," he said. He added that the decision to implement a review plan was not a punishment for Klein. "We think this is the right way to go," he said.
Eilerman called it a "reciprocal process" in which Klein and the commission will hold each other to certain standards and expectations. "I hope we get into the habit of working together respectfully," Eilerman later said on Twitter. "Fingers crossed."
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Photo: Covington City Commission meeting Tuesday nignt/RCN