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Contract talk heats up city meeting

ESCANABA — Escanaba City Council members sparred Thursday over whether or not the entire council should know what City Manager Patrick Jordan had recently requested be changed in his contract, despite those changes not being recommended by a subcommittee.

“Will the rest of the council be informed as to what the manager was hoping to have changed? Will the rest of us be in the loop? Are we or are we not entitled to know what was going on?” Council Member Ron Beauchamp demanded at the regular city council meeting.

Following the city council meeting on July 16 — which included the review of the city manager on its agenda — a subcommittee consisting of Mayor Marc Tall, Council Member Ralph Blasier and City Attorney John M.A. Bergman met with Jordan to discuss possible changes to his contract.

“If something had been recommended — and nothing was — obviously that recommendation would come back to council, but there was no recommendation,” said Blasier.

After a heated debate regarding whether or not it was necessary for the subcommittee to report on the requests, Blasier recalled Jordan’s requests. Jordan wanted a raise, more paid time off, and a change to the way severance pay would be distributed. In his current contract, if the city were to terminate his employment without cause, Jordan would receive six month’s pay, paid in installments every two weeks. Jordan asked the subcommittee to modify the contract to make that payment a lump sum.

In other business Thursday, the council

– postponed the first reading of an ordinance regulating loose dogs in the city until Bergman could add language further defining “under control” and language could be added specifying dogs could be off-leash at the soon-to-be-opened dog park. Blasier noted during this time that, while he is a dog lover, he was conflicted about the ordinance after his grandson’s dog was attacked Wednesday on his property by another dog that was leashed.

– approved donating a 1950s trailer used for transporting “hot sticks,” which allow linemen to make contact safe with energized equipment, to Jason Townsend. Townsend maintains a lineman museum in Illinois. If the museum were to close, the trailer would be given to the National Lineman Museum.

– held the first readings for two other ordinances. One modified the historic district boundaries around the former Richter Brewing building and the other brought the city’s fireworks rules in line with updated state law.

– approved the annual service agreement with the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center. The city pays the BAC $5,000 per year for cultural programs.

– approved public space requests for Network de Noc Business Networking International and the Bay de Noc Brewers for events. Network de Noc will be holding “Pulling for Honor” on Ludington Street on Sept. 28, and the Bay de Noc Brewers will bring Uptoberfest to Ludington Park on Oct. 13.

– approved a contract of mowing services at the solar facility.

– approved public works department project bids for sidewalk construction, paving, and curbing.

– approved the purchase for a 3/4 ton wastewater truck from Riverside Chevrolet of Escanaba at a cost of $30,820. other items for the truck will be purchased separately, but total costs will not exceed $38,000.

– approved the electric department entering into a contract for pole testing with Karcz Utility Services of Pulaski, Wis., as well as a mutual aid agreement with UPPCO.

– hired Anthony Piazza for appraisal services for the old jail site at a cost of $5,000.

– entered into an investment management agreement with First Bank (see related story).

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