Interim City Manager Steve Jones and Councilman Larry Hug exchanged accusations Monday in another dialogue reflecting tensions about what to do about the city manager job.
“Shut him down!” Hug said at one point to Mayor Bob O’Dekirk when Jones responded to a comment the councilman made.
The clash occurred during discussion on whether to hire GovHR USA to perform a candidate search for a permanent city manager.
Some council members, including Hug, have questioned hiring GovHR USA for the job despite a discount the city would receive for the firm’s services.
Hug said on Monday that someone in the city should “reach out to GovHR and tell them that they’re going to lose their $72,000 commission” to see whether the city still would receive the discount.
Hug was referring to a possible commission that would go to a professional services firm if the city hires Jones as a contractor to continue working the interim city manager job beyond February. Jones has agreed to stay in the job until then, but he said he plans to switch to contract work in March.
“I also think it’s important, Councilman Hug,” Jones said, “that you stop referring to some sort of commission or contract because, as I did indicate to you, I have no contract with them.”
Jones’ response angered Hug.
“That was inappropriate for you to cut in like that,” he said to Jones. “Don’t ever do that to me again. Do you understand?”
“Mr. Hug,” Jones replied, “as long as you don’t mischaracterize previous things that I said ...”
“Shut him down!” Hug then said to the mayor, who presides over the meetings. Hug insisted that he was right in his characterization of Jones and GovHR.
“Larry,” O’Dekirk said,
“I didn’t say you were wrong, but you’ve got to calm down.”
“You need to calm him down,” Hug said, indicating Jones, who had stopped speaking when Hug interrupted him. “You’re inappropriate in your behavior, Mr. Jones.”
Jones has used GovHR as an example of a professional services firm that he could work through but also has said he would not do so if the council would view it as a conflict of interest.
The council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to hire GovHR USA for a candidate search, and the vote could break down into another 5-3 split that has typified decisions during the city manager process.
Council members Jan Quillman and Terry Morris also said they did not want GovHR USA for the search.