As I predicted, the mayor’s establishment of a cabinet was challenged this morning. Council member Megan Pratt said she saw the positions to be similar to the assistant city manager positions that existed under former City Manager Tom Bonfield. His assistant city managers were Al Coby and Robert Payne and they were hired without the approval of the city council. Payne retired last year. Coby was promoted to interim city manager. Because of the strong mayor change in government, no assistant city managers were hired—thus, giving the new mayor the power to figure out how he would organize his staff.
Council President Maren Deweese told the council that she looked up “cabinet” on Google and she found that “cabinet members” are defined as department heads. Therefore, she believes that that all of the mayor’s cabinet, except for the City Administrative Officer, must be approved by the City Council.
Mayor Hayward disagrees with this position by Deweese. The rest of the council, other than Pratt, didn’t weigh in on this so we have no idea if Deweese’s Google definition has the support of the majority of the council or will it hold up under a legal challenge. Pratt called the issue “an annoying semantic question.”
Hayward will not give in on this. He believes he has the right to establish his own advisory team and his own cabinet without council approval.
Will it go to court? Deweese will have to have the support of four other council members to do so.
This debate is another sign of growing pains. As City Attorney Jim Messer said at the July Council Workshop, taking these issues to a judge for a ruling isn’t necessarily a negative.