Mayor, board president spar over committee proposal
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff writer | April 14,2014
The Board of Aldermen has a new committee and the mayor has some strong words about its implications.
Board President David Allaire, who has sole authority over committee assignments, has created a “human resources committee” and filled its three seats with himself, Alderwoman Sharon Davis and Alderman Ed Larson.
“My thought process is that now we have a human resources department with a full-time staff person, I think it’s been a number of years since we reviewed the personnel manual,” Allaire said. “I would like to see this committee tasked with updating the manual.”
However, in an email to City Attorney Charles Romeo, Allaire also suggested that the committee could serve “as an appeal if a grievance could not be worked out with (the) HR dept or Mayor as CEO of the city.”
Mayor Christopher Louras said that while he was not sure what that meant, he had severe misgivings about it, as it sounded like it was stripping the mayor of his management powers as outlined in the charter.
“I’ll simply disregard what the board says because they do not have the power to dictate specific personnel actions,” he said. “If an employee fails to adhere to policies as directed by a department head, then it’s up to the department head, according to the charter, to remedy that situation, with the support of the mayor, not the Board of Aldermen. I see this as a power-grab by three members of the Board of Aldermen and it will not stand.”
Allaire disagreed with the “power-grab” characterization and downplayed the grievance appeal aspect. He said his first thought was to get the personnel manual updated — something Louras agreed was within the board’s purview — and that the appeal role was a hypothetical thought for giving the committee something to do beyond the manual.
“I had taken a look at other communities, how they handled these things for non-union personnel, and there are some where a committee like this is used,” he said. “It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but that’s not primary in my thoughts and vision right now.”