A Recap of the November 3rd City Council Meeting
The November 3rd Clifton Council meeting devolved into arguments and at times shouting matches during much of the 2 hour meeting, several times circling back to the accusations of wrong doing made by Councilwoman Sadrakula against the Council or city staff, often on Facebook.
Some portions of the arguments are difficult to follow or understand due to Council members talking or shouting over each other. On several occasions during the meeting both Councilman Gibson and Grabowski call for a “Point of Order,” an action in parliamentary procedure to call the group's attention when rules have been violated.
First on the agenda are entertainment license renewals for Dingo’s Den and La Fortaleza, after a Q&A period between the Council and business owners, both are renewed.
The meeting’s agenda also includes a list of 15 action items, the first being the CFO’s recommendation to approve a Budget Amendment Resolution and budget transfers. Councilwoman Sadrakula asks to discuss the item, and asks why the transfers are being done. The City Manager responds that he will have to ask the CFO to provide more detail, and asks Councilwoman Sadrakula to please ask her questions in advance so he can have the CFO attend the meeting. Councilwoman Sadrakula asks to have the action tabled until they can get the answers. The mayor asks for a roll call on tabling.
Councilwoman Murphy votes yes to table, but explains that in the future Councilwoman Sadrakula needs to submit her questions in advance as she has been asked to many times. Councilwoman Gibson votes yes to table, the Mayor reminds the group that if questions are asked in advance the City Manager can have the employee come to the meeting. Councilwoman Pino votes yes to table, and says she thinks the CFO should be at all council meetings. Councilwoman Sadrakula votes yes to table and tells Councilwoman Pino that if that was a motion to have the CFO at meetings, she would second it. The Mayor explains there is a roll call on the first motion to table. Councilwoman Pino then asks the Mayor what she has to do, does she have to make a motion. The City Attorney explains they would need to notify the employee if they are discussing a term of his employment. Councilwoman Pino asks the City Attorney how she should do that, asking if she should make a motion to discuss. The Mayor responds that he can put it on the next meeting’s agenda for discussion.
The heated discussion continues as Councilman Gibson explains that it is fair to ask questions in advance, Council packets come in on Friday. Gibson explains that if we bring the CFO in to answer questions we have to pay him for his time. Councilwoman Pino interjects as Councilman Gibson asks that he be allowed to finish speaking. He asks if all confidential employees have to be on call during meetings? Councilwoman Murphy says no, that would be changing the terms of employment.
Councilwoman Sadrakula asks if it is a red flag to move $600K to the fire department overtime? The Mayor answers no, the Fire Chief submitted a report to the Council explaining the department’s overtime.
The City Manager addresses Councilwoman Sadrakula and asks why she didn’t include the question for the CFO in her email to him on Monday so he could request the CFO be at the meeting. Councilwoman Sadrakula states she would be told she has no right to ask that. The Mayor states that is wrong and not true. The meeting devolves as Councilwoman Sadrakula yells over the Mayor and City Manager and accusations of harassment are made. The Mayor explains the only hostile work environment is from the Councilwoman and it has been proven. Councilman Grabowski and Gibson make a point of order to move on, acknowledging the topic has been put on for discussion at the next meeting.
The following actions are taken:
- Renewal of entertainment licenses for Dingo’s Den and La Fortaleza
- Release of Performance Bonds and Escrow Pending Receipt of Maintenance Bonds
- Lexington Ave & Federal Street Sanitary Sewer Replacements – Advertisement for Bids
- Richardson Scale Park Improvements award of contract to Green Valley Group and Mott MacDonald.
- Hurricane Ida Restoration – award of contract to Lara’s General Contractor LLC
- 2021 Road Resurfacing Program – award of contract to Boswell Engineering
Councilwoman Sadrakula then asks for discussion on the action item to authorize telephone bills for audit and asks why it can’t be done internally. The City Manager answers that he saw her Facebook post saying the city was doing something wrong, but their work has been going on for months. Councilwoman Sadrakula yells at the City Manager that she did not say on Facebook that it was illegal. The conversation devolves into an argument between Councilwoman Sadrakula and the City Manager.
The Mayor stops the City Manager and says he wants to acknowledge that the conversation has become hostile. He explains that the CFO should be credited with how well the Covid expenses and CARES Act money were handled and that Clifton has been referred to as an example of how the money should be used multiple times in County meetings. The City Manager adds that Clifton received an unsolicited letter from the County saying they were doing a good job.
The Mayor says it is an openly hostile environment, Councilwoman Sadrakula interjects that it’s just asking questions. The Mayor responds that it is the nature of the question and then posts on Facebook making accusations that are a problem. The City Manager explains that Councilwoman Sadrakula is accusing him and his staff of doing something wrong or illegal. Councilwoman Sadrakula yells at the City Manager that she didn’t say it was illegal, the conversation devolves into another argument and accusations of a hostile work environment. Councilman Grabowski then “Calls the Question” which is used to stop a discussion.
The Mayor explains that the only person that has been investigated and interviewed for a hostile work environment is Councilwoman Sadrakula, as Sadrakula continues yelling. The Mayor recommends to the City Manager that they print the resolution on the censure of Councilwoman Sadrakula so the public knows what is going on.
After this, additional actions taken include:
- Authorize use of competitive contracting to provide online police investigative tools
- Authorization to reject the sole bid for Computer components
- Authorization to approve the “Photo with Santa” event on December 4th
Councilman Grabowski presents the Beautification Awards that acknowledges city residents who take exceptional care of their property.