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City Council Holds Confidence Vote on Walker

University City decides ICMA decision has no bearing on city manager's position with the city.

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.

Monday's Action

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.

ICMA Violations

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.

Lisa K March 13, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Thank you for reporting on this, especially the part about the vote taken after half of the council members representing our city had left. What is the point of writing to the original petitioners, I wonder? I have a feeling it won't be a simple thank you letter, though.
bobette luckett March 13, 2012 at 01:33 PM
These shenanigans, Post-Dispatch words not mine, will be dealt with in the next mayoral election. I suggest we focus on our youth, small businesses, getting the good news out about our schools and economic development along Olive Blvd. F.Y.I. we must get our house in order before we attempt to "rebrand". Bobette Luckett
Craig Brown March 13, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I wonder who the city attorney was when the contract was originally written to include this language?
Lisa Hummel March 13, 2012 at 11:58 PM
This is very confusing. Why had the other council members left? Is it common for the council to go back to public session after already adjourning to executive session when the original public session is over? Were any of the members of the public made aware of this additional public session that was to be held, and was anyone left besides the board members who voted? Also, what was the point of these letters? Maybe the original reporter or someone else who was there can clarify what happened here?
Sebastian Serra March 14, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Good questions Lisa. I would like to understand it better as well. Are they just adding fuel to the fire, by sending letters to those municipalities? The 3 who voted for the letters (Glickert, Ricci, and Welch) got what they wanted....why are they continuing to attract attention to the issue? Shouldn't they just hope people forget about this, instead of continueing to bring attention to it? Maybe I am missing something here.
Nancy MacCartney March 14, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Based on past U City history I would venture to guess that this is an attempt at intimidation and threat of an actual law suit by U City against these other cities or to get the other councils to disciplie thier city managers.
Deedis Dunn March 14, 2012 at 11:21 PM
I doubt the letters are a poll asking how many people they interviewed before hiring their city manager.
Kim March 15, 2012 at 03:00 AM
I too would like to know the nature of the letters being sent on behalf of the citizens of University City. We've already strained our relationship with Clayton over the driving range lights fiasco, the last thing we need to do is further alienate surrounding municipalities. U City is not an island - we need to work with our neighbors for the betterment of the region. Fortunately, I believe any such letters would be subject to relase under Sunshine Act laws, so we will eventually know what this is all about. I hope we can trust our elected leaders to do the right thing.
Cindy March 15, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Hear Paulette Carr's position on open, transparent government at: http://www.youtube.com/user/CarrForUcity.
ucityyea March 17, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Has anyone checked to see if these letters have been sent. Seems like we are just opening ourselves up to more bad press and possible lawsuits.

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