Council Members Price and Crow Deny No Confidence Statement Is Retaliation for Reprimand; Cite Budgetary Concerns
Council member Byron Price said the city manager's handling of University City's budget propelled him to support a Statement of No Confidence.
Council member Byron Price said his backing of a No Confidence Statement concerning the performance of City Manager Lehman Walker had nothing to do with the city council's approval of a resolution to formally reprimand him for his behavior at a February 14th council meeting.
Price told University City Patch the Statement of No Confidence was broached before he received the mayor's letter of reprimand. The letter stated that if Price's "disorderly conduct" continued the mayor would recommend proceeding with further disciplinary action.
"I'm confused, how did 'X' become something happening," said Price. He believes 'X' was already planned. "What happened between the 14th and the last (City Council) meeting" to warrant formalizing the reprimand.
Price said the reprimand is an infringement on his right to free speech. "I'm an American citizen and I have First Amendment rights."
Both University City Mayor Shelley Welsch and city manager have stated they believe the No Confidence Statement is in retaliation for Price's reprimand.
"I am disappointed that these three members are concentrating on petty “payback” instead of the work of the City," Mayor Welsch wrote in an email to U City Patch on Wednesday.
However, Price insists the statement of No Confidence was solely based on his concerns over some decisions the city manager has made.
"I totally disagree with the budget decision," he said. "I'm saying the budget is solvent." Walker has said that while the City has approximately ten million dollars in its reserve fund, the City should not rely on these funds to balance the budget.
When you spend more than you take in and your only option is to use your reserves "I consider you to be in dire financial straits," said Walker.
Price disagrees. "You use your reserves when you have to, that's why you have reserves," he said. "Don't make catastrophic movements when you have reserves."
Council member Terry Crow also denied any correlation between Price's reprimand and his filling of the No Confidence Statement. Simply put, he said he made the filing concerning the city manager's performance because -- he has no confidence in him.
Crow told University City Patch that he has questions about a number of the city manager's decisions. One being staff reductions. "I do not agree with all the terminations."
Additionally, Crow said he put the Statement of No Confidence in the city clerk's agenda box before noon on Thursday, February 24th. He said at that time he was not aware Council member Price's reprimand would be on the council agenda.
In 2009, three University City council members signed a Statement of No Confidence in the city manager's performance. This time however, the parties who tried to oust the previous city manager are now standing behind the city manager.
In December 7, 2009 current Council members Lynn Ricci and L. Michael Glickert and former Council member Robert Wagner signed a statement of No Confidence in then City Manager Julie Feier's performance.
Council members Terry Crow, Arthur Sharpe Jr., Byron Price and former U City Mayor Joe Adams stood by Feier and opposed the No Confidence Statement.
Jump to Monday, February 28th, 2011 - Council members Sharpe, Price and Crow sign a No Confidence Statement concerning the performance of City Manager Lehman Walker. Opposing the No Confidence Statement are Council members L. Michael Glickert, Lynn Ricci and Stephen Kraft as well as University City Mayor Shelley Welsch.