Mayor Herb Adams said a strongly worded request from an alderman to be notified in advance when staffers are to be away from city hall should not have included him.
Adams was visibly angered by the request, saying, “You included me and here’s my answer.
“You’re not going to dictate to me,” he said. “I’ll decide if I’m going to tell you when I’m out of town.”
Alderman Mike Pigg requested that City Administrator Harold Selby, City Clerk Kim Barfield and City Engineer Dan Rahn notify aldermen by email when they plan to be out of the office.
He prefaced his comments saying these officials are frequently away from city hall without letting aldermen know.
This was the third time that Pigg has made the request during an aldermanic meeting. He said unreturned phone calls because someone is not actually in the building could be eliminated with a simple email, notifying aldermen when they will be available.
If someone is on vacation or away from the office, but aldermen don’t know it, constituents can be left dangling for a week waiting for a response.
“I’m not saying we want to tell them when they can be out of the office or where they can go,” Pigg said. “I just want to know when they’re not going to be here. Is that too much to ask?”
Adams stood his ground, repeating that he should not have been included in the request and would not comply.
“Aldermen do not dictate to mayors,” he said.
Pigg defended his request, saying that it’s a reasonable request and a simple courtesy from the staff.
“They work for us,” he said.
Pigg put his request in the form of a motion, which was seconded by Walter Arnette, and then voted on in an “all in favor” vote. Only Pigg and Arnette verbally answered yes, but no one voted no.
Adams later told The Missourian that he had asked the staff to record a message on their phone answering machines when they will be away from the office that will include when they will return and who to call if information is needed while they are away.
He said the language of Pigg’s motion only included three staff members and he was reluctant to establish a written policy for only three members.
He also said staff members should not indicate in phone messages that they are on vacation.
“We don’t want to publicize that people are away from their homes,” he said. “It’s sufficient to say they’re away from the office.”
Tempers aside, the mayor said, whatever policy the city establishes should focus on serving the public and should do it in an appropriate way.