City Hall Insider …

What is our City Council up to these days? We have the highlights of the latest council meeting.

By Charles Sercombe

Last week we stopped about midway through the Oct. 25 City Council meeting, in which only Councilmember Kazi Miah was absent. Let’s pick up where we left off.

Or maybe not.

Where we left off was just before a long discussion on a supposed financial crisis in the Water Department.

Turns out, not true. The issue was covered in last week’s issue, and there is a follow-up in this week’s issue.

As they say in the news business, “Read all about it.”

Let’s skip ahead to the second public comment section, in which Rachel Karpinski Srodek criticized certain councilmembers for questioning why there is a financial crisis in the Water Department.

She reminded the council that it eliminated two employees in the department.

“And now there is no one,” she said. “So what’s going to happen? Are you going to be a city?”

(Editor’s note: Srodek is the daughter of the supervisor of the department, Cheryl Karpinski.)

Pearl Prieur inquired about purchasing some properties on Holbrook, near her bar, Hank’s Lounge. She was told to follow-up with the city manager or the city’s director of Community & Economic Development Department.

Prieur also suggested turning the vacant former Shoppers World building into a roller rink so kids will have something to do.

She also announced that she has stage four cancer and is a medical marijuana user. (Earlier in the meeting the council discussed a proposed zoning law regulating where medical marijuana can be grown.)

Candidate for City Council Robert Zwolak said there used to be a requirement for voters to prove they are U.S. citizen before they could vote. Now, he said, voters only have to sign an affidavit.

It was not immediately clear what his point was.

However, he went on to say that he is pleased that the city’s Tax Department has been contacting new voters to inform them that the city has an income tax requirement.

Zwolak said that if non-citizens are voting, they face being charged with voter fraud, and they could be deported if found guilty.

Under the topic of non-agenda items, Councilmember Tom Jankowski said he doesn’t understand why the city manager did not have a report to present to council. He said that there are a lot of things happening in the city, and the city manager is paid $104,000.

Jankowski also criticized City Manager Bill Cooper for appointing himself Acting Police Chief when there is an officer in the department who “blew away” others who took a recent test for the job of chief.

(Editor’s note: Cooper had presented a candidate for the job, who also passed the chief’s test, but the council declined to take action on the proposal.)

Later in the discussion, Councilmember Shahab Ahmed made a motion instructing Cooper to present another candidate for the appointment of Acting Chief at the next council meeting.

Councilmember Catrina Stackpoole objected to the motion, saying it is “horribly inappropriate for this council to take over the job as city manager.”

Stackpoole also reminded the council that the city manager is currently negotiating with the police officers’ union, and that “screaming and threatening” to fire the city manager will undermine his ability to work out a new contract.

Stackpoole then gathered up her things and left the meeting.

Ahmed defended his motion, saying the city manager has plenty of other duties to take care of and needs to be relieved from his role as chief.

Councilmember Gordon said the council should not do an “end run” around Cooper. Later in the meeting, she was the only one to vote against instructing Cooper to present another candidate to appoint as Acting Police Chief (the mayor was not required to vote on the matter).

Well, that’s it for this meeting. The next council meeting will not be held next Tuesday because it’s Election Day. Instead, the meeting will be held on Thursday Nov. 10.

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