Esky city manager gets good review

ESCANABA — The Escanaba City Council gave an overall positive review of City Manager Patrick Jordan during closed session Tuesday night, but the official review that will stay in the city manager’s personnel file is not yet complete.

“Generally very positive comments. There were some points by many of us about individual items that Patrick is going to work on. I think it was universally true we all wanted more communication, but as I pointed out in the closed session, you can’t ever give me enough communication,” Mayor Marc Tall told the Daily Press following the meeting.

Tuesday’s review was the second for Jordan as city manager, but council members and the city manager himself had concerns over how to record the review for his file. Jordan’s first review was the subject of a resident’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. However, no documents exist detailing the council’s thoughts on Jordan’s performance from his first review and the council was unsure whether any documents related to Tuesday’s closed session review would be part of the public record under the law.

The council directed City Attorney John M.A. Bergman to review the law, but the council members and the city manager had differing opinions on how to document the review in case it was determined to be public record.

Chief among Jordan’s concerns was the possibility of multiple reviews from council members being recorded, which he feared would be edited and selectively released on social media in a way that would portray him and his performance poorly regardless of the council’s actual feelings towards his work.

“I have got to assume (a FOIA is) going to happen again, and I’m thinking in those terms. This is going to make it on Facebook or something, all these notes about me, and whoever does it will be very selective about what they put on there, and I’m just thinking about my career, my reputation down the road (with) all this stuff that gets splashed on the internet with no control,” said Jordan.

While Jordan was concerned about items being selectively shared, some on the council were equally concerned their views would be selectively suppressed unless each council member’s comments were included in the record.

“My biggest concern is that there’s going to be line-item vetoes. ‘This won’t be included by the majority of the council members’ will be ‘item scratched,'” said Council Member Ron Beauchamp.

As a compromise, the council voted to each write a synopsis of their thoughts on Jordan’s performance to be included unedited in his personnel file. In addition, numerical scores in various categories from a six-page rubric filled out by the council members prior to Tuesday’s meeting will be averaged and included in the file as a single set of scores.

At Jordan’s request, a committee was also formed consisting of Mayor Tall and Council Member Ralph Blasier to review and adjust his contract with the assistance of Bergman. It was not stated which parts of the existing contract were of concern.

In other business Tuesday, the council

— Approved retaining the engineering services of C2AE and Black & Veatch to oversee and complete the upcoming water treatment plant project.

— Approved a resolution to support a matching grant application filed by the Bonifas Arts Center for the Music Mondays summer concert series in 2020.

— Approved a resolution establishing authorized signatories for the Michigan Municipal Employees Retirement System. The resolution was necessary to removed Bob Valentine, who retired recently, from the document.

— Approved the city’s annual agreement with the Delta County Historical Society. Under the agreement, which has not changed since last year, the city will pay the society $2,000 to maintain and operate the lighthouse museum and nautical display and other exhibits open to the public.

— Approved authorizing the hire and retention of HydroCorp of Troy, Mich. for cross-connection and backflow prevention services for the water department for a sum not to exceed $35,496. Only $500 of the requested sum was not allotted for this type of work in the city’s budget.