|WCSI Local News|
The fallout from Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown's decision to remove Ben Wagner from his position as Director of Parks and Recreation continues.
The Columbus City Council met Tuesday night and approved an ordinance that essentially ties up funds to hire a new Parks Director. When Brown demoted Wagner to a position in Marketing, his salary was cut in half. The council's action essentially restores Wagner's pay to it's original level.
In a letter, Brown expressed concerns with how the Parks Department was being run under Wagner. She cited what she called questionable expenditures and blamed him for the Snappy Tomato Pizza lease issue inside the Commons.
When asked by residents why the city council is taking this action, members explained that they felt it was the right thing to do. At-Large Councilman Jim Lienhop said Wagner's removal was "wrong" and "an egregious act." He went to describe the circumstances on the evening of Wagner's removal as he understood them. Lienhop concluded that he felt "sorry for anyone" who does not see a wrong in how Wagner was treated.
The council explained that it is seeking it's own legal representation in determining if Mayor Brown's actions were legal. City Attorney and Executive Director of Administration Jeff Logston determined that Brown had the authority to do what she did. Lienhop noted that while he likes Logston, it was no secret that he is a political confident of the mayor. Lienhop added that the council is searching for a qualified attorney to give the council guidance, but some that have been approached indicated that they did not want to get involved. When discussing the potential costs of hiring outside council, members indicated that it would be better to spend a few thousand dollars now to insure that the city would not be opened up to legal action due to Wagner's demotion. Lienhop noted that he was concerned that Wagner may have been damaged by Brown's actions and that he would feel better about the city's position if it was looked at by a third party.
Lienhop went on to say that there is no hard time line as to when this issue would be resolved. He did add that it will be resolved, one way or the other.
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 05, 2014 8:56:54 AM
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