The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) sanction of University City Manager Lehman Walker has drawn reaction from University City residents and others in the St. Louis area.
Two area city managers told Patch the censure and ban of Walker is the stiffest penalty doled out by ICMA and that other bans may follow. State and local city manager organizations follow the tenets of the ICMA and will likely follow ICMA's lead to ban Walker from their groups.
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"We share the same code of ethics and are an affliate member of ICMA," said City Manager George Liyeos. Liyeos serves as the president of the Missouri City/County Management Association, the state professional association of appointed local government administrators in cities and counties.
Liyeos said the MCMA executive board would meet in coming weeks and may act in adding a sanction at that time. Walker is not currently a member of MCMA, but the board's action would prevent him from joining.
The St. Louis Area City Management Association also will review the case and may take action.
St. Ann's City Manager and President of the St. Louis Area City Management Association Matt Conley said the outcome of ICMA's investigation was severe but fit the crime.
"I've never seen anything like this in St. Louis or around the state," Conley said. "Usually expulsion and barring from the group is reserved for criminal acts."
Conley said ICMA is a voluntary professional organization governed and run by its members.
"This isn't a trade organization — these are professional city managers and administrators," Conley told Patch.
Conley was one of the original petitioners to the ICMA after questions arose about contact between U City officials and Walker prior to his hiring as manager. The petition also was signed by the following city managers:
- 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
"It was very clear to me after reviewing the evidence and the emails that Mr. Walker violated ICMA ethics," Conley said.
Conley said the code of ethics is required for review by potential members to ICMA, and all members sign a statement agreeing to adhere to that code.
"He'd been a member for more than a few years when this occurred," he added. "He agreed to abide by the code of ethics, but he obviously didn't think it applied to what he was doing."
Once the initial petition was submitted, three additional independent groups reviewed the complaint against Walker.
"The remark that this is a political process is asinine," Conley said. "A state association from Missouri and Illinois reviewed it and passed it to the ICMA professional conduct board, which then sent it to the executive board. These people had no knowledge of who he was — they knew nothing but what was in the evidence in front of them."
University City has a long and proud tradition of using the city manager form of government, Conley said. City managers run the day-to-day operations of a city and do not involve themselves in the political workings of the city council or board.
"University City, prior to recent events, was a calling card for a professional well-managed city in the St Louis area," Conley said.