Manager’s performance discussed

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2015

With three new members having been delivered to Suffolk City Council on a wave of voter discontent, an announcement Wednesday that the newly seated council would hold a closed session to discuss “the performance of the city manager” was fraught with potential implications.

Following a short work session during which they heard plans for a “fire safety blitz,” members were preparing to vote on a motion to go into closed session to discuss candidates for a variety of appointments when Councilman Tim Johnson, newly elected from the Holy Neck Council, asked for an amendment to the motion to allow members to also discuss City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn’s job performance.

Council voted unanimously to agree to the change, but not without a bit of chiding from a more veteran member.

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“I’m of the opinion that this is not an appropriate time for this,” Chuckatuck Borough Councilman Mike Duman said. “I have reservations that members of council with less than three weeks of experience are in a position to be able to evaluate any employee.”

Cuffee-Glenn’s management style was a favorite pre-election target of the three candidates who unseated incumbents in November’s election. A 14-percent pay raise in 2013 — given when Suffolk teachers were struggling for the city to find money for their own raises and just a few months after City Council had shot down an even larger raise in the face of a citizen protest that had spilled over into the parking lot — continued during the 2014 election to be a rallying point for those who sought a council shake-up.

On Wednesday, council watchers around the city were predicting the new members might press for a change.

But when council members returned to the open portion of the meeting and it came time for new business, there was no discussion of the closed-meeting topic.

Duman mentioned it briefly in his remarks at the close of the meeting.

“I was apprehensive about the closed-session meeting tonight, but it was a productive meeting,” he said.

No other members addressed the topic directly, but Tim Johnson made reference to the election: “The people of Suffolk spoke very loudly, and I think you’re going to be pleased with where we’re heading.”