Residents cried out at Monday's City Council meeting for open government and an end to weeks of questions regarding City Manager Lehman Walker.
The city council reponded by holding a vote on Walker's position.
Speakers at the meeting were upset with the city's handing of the . The ICMA, or International City/County Management Association, issued its statement to the public on Feb. 29. That came two days after the city council had voted to remove language regarding the ICMA from Walker's employment contract with the city.
A legal opinion from the city's attorney Paul Martin found the ICMA portion of Walker's contract unenforceable and therefore recommended its removal from the contract. The board voted to remove the language Feb. 27.
The legal opinon reads:
The unenforceable provision defined "termination with cause," i.e., without the payment of severance, as including a breach of the ICMA Code of Ethics...this provision is flawed, for several reasons. Among them (a) the provision is vague, in that it does not specifically identify the ICMA standards by which Mr. Walker would be judged, (b) it would permit a "for cause" termination for even the smallest ethical breach, (c) it would permit a "for cause" termination for acts of the manager occurring before he was hired by University City, and (d) it would allow a "for cause" termination if the ICMA, a party unrelated to the City, determined that an ethics breach had occurred.
After a two-hour executive session Monday, the City Council issued the results of its vote regarding Walker's position with the city.
The motion taken in executive session reads as follows: "The Council has reviewed the ICMA allegations and found that none of these allegations have any bearing on Mr. Walker or his ability to continue providing excellent service to University."
The vote was 5-2. Council members Stephen Kraft, Michael Glickert, Arthur Sharpe, Lynn Ricci and Mayor Shelley Welsch voted in favor of the motion. Councilmen Bryon Price and Terry Crow voted against the measure.
According to the ICMA, its "Board found that Mr. Walker violated Tenets 2, 3, and 4 of the ICMA Code of Ethics. While working for another local government, Mr. Walker communicated with a University City council member and mayoral candidate about city business; made comments criticizing the University City manager’s performance; and did not inform the University City manager about the discussions. Mr. Walker also sent his résumé to the mayoral candidate shortly before the election. Finally, Mr. Walker failed to fulfill his ethical obligation to serve a two‐year tenure by resigning from his position after nine months to take the position as city manager in University City."
All of the violations in question occurred while Walker was employed by the city of Evanston, Il. Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz shared his reaction to the news of Walker's censure with Evanston Patch.
"He served Evanston very well in his time here and we were sorry to see him go and continue to wish him well," Bobkiewicz said. He added that he was not part of any discussions about Walker with the ICMA.
In a vote after the council went back into public session, a measure was passed to send letters to the municipalities employing the seven original petitioners to the ICMA questioning Walker's conduct.
That vote passed 3-1 by Ricci, Glickert and Welsch. Councilman Kraft voted against the measure and the other three council members had left the chamber prior to the vote.
The seven original petitioners are:
- Matt Conley, St. Ann City Manager
- Martin Corcoran, Maplewood City Manager
- Amy Hamilton, Richmond Heights City Manager
- Douglas Harms, Des Peres City Administrator
- Michael Herring, Chesterfield City Administrator
- Robert Kuntz, Ballwin City Administrator
- D. Kent Leichliter, Crestwood City Manager
Patch will have more on this story and the rest of the council meeting news later today.