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After Tumultuous Year, Cold Spring Establishes Plan for Dealing with Firings & Resignations

Cold Spring Mayor Mark Stoeber issued two executive orders and the city council approved two ordinances on Monday night in response to what the mayor called “a 100-year storm” in the city at the beginning of the year, when then-Mayor Nancy Bay fired the city administrator, police chief, and city attorney, before resigning herself, leaving no one in charge of the city.

“This is not a simple event that has occurred in this city,” Stoeber said, referring to the turmoil that occurred under Bay.

Stoeber previously stated during the August council meeting that he would issue these executive orders, making them official and effective on Monday night.

The first orders that the mayor hold a city council meeting within 72 hours after the termination of a city employee.

Stoeber said that this executive order will “ensure that there is full transparency between the mayor and city council.” This order was issued in response to Bay not informing council of her decisions to fire the city administrator, city attorney, and police chief.

The second executive order puts in place an order of succession in the case of a vacancy in the office of the mayor. According to the order, in the case that a mayor resigns or is removed, the police chief will become mayor. If it is determined that the police chief does not want to or cannot perform the duties of mayor, the city administrator will then become mayor. The entire order of succession is as follows: 1) Police Chief, 2) City Administrator, 3) City Clerk, 4) City Attorney, and 5) highest ranking police officer.

The first ordinance brought before council would require the city clerk to distribute and publish all executive orders on the city website. With no discussion on the topic, the ordinance was unanimously approved by the council.

The second ordinance caused a stir within the council. The ordinance would order that the mayor may not terminate a city employee at will for the first 90 days of his/her term.

Councilwoman Lisa Cavanaugh opposed the ordinance, saying that there is a difference between what is wrong and something that is not liked. “What she (Bay) did in her first 90 days was not wrong,” Cavanaugh said. “Her resigning was wrong.”

Councilman Lou Gerding supported the ordinance, stating that it will make sure the city avoids what happened under Bay. “The former mayor’s 90 days of fame has cost this city tens of thousands of dollars in time and money,” Gerding said. “I don’t want to see this happen again and that’s why I am for this.”

After the discussion period ended, the ordinance passed by a slim margin of 3-2. Cavanaugh and Councilwoman Brenda Helton opposed the ordinance.

Other notes:

  • The beginning of the meeting was run by Teagan Meeks, a kindergarten student at Crossroads Elementary School, who was being honored as part of the annual tradition of selecting a Cold Spring student to be honorary mayor during a meeting.
  • The police department swore-in a new officer, Irvin Davis, and promoted Officer David Hyett to Sergeant. It was also announced that Hyett was awarded the NAMI CIT Police Officer of the Year Award at NAMI’s annual conference this past weekend.
  • Council established official Halloween hours as 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sat. Oct 31. 

Written by Clayton Castle, RCN contributor

Photo: Mayor Mark Stoeber with Honorary Mayor Teagan Meeks of Crossroads Elementary School at the city council meeting on Sept. 29, 2015.