City manager fired

Published 1:54 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — The Americus City Council voted 4-2 Thursday night to terminate the employment of Steve Kennedy, city manager.
At the beginning of the regular monthly meeting Thursday, Council member Juanita Wilson asked to add something to the agenda — a closed session to discuss personnel. After an hour-long open session, the body voted to go behind closed doors. The closed session lasted about 40 minutes.
When the council came back into open session, Wilson moved to terminate Kennedy’s employment which was seconded by Daryl Dowdell. Voting for the termination were Wilson, Dowdell, Kelvin Pless and Nelson Brown. Voting against were Lou Chase and Charles Christmas. During the discussion prior to taking a vote, Chase commented that her only concern was how some of the council members were acting.
Kennedy had been city manager since early 2015. He was the first city manager after the city council voted to have the state Legislature change its charter from a city administrator form to the city manager.
Americus Mayor Barry Blount issued a statement Friday morning, thanking Kennedy “for all of his service not only to Mayor and Council but to the citizens of Americus. We will immediately begin the search for an Interim City Manager.”
There will be a called meeting of the Mayor and City Council AT 5 P.M. Wednesday, April 25 in the Council Chambers to go into closed session to discuss a severance package for Kennedy as well as Interim City Manager.
In other business during Thursday’s meeting, a motion to change the hours for selling alcohol failed.
During the agenda setting meeting of April 12, Dowdell was on the agenda to talk about changing section 6-93 of the city’s alcohol license. He made a motion to change the hours back to 1:45 a.m. for last call and 2 a.m. for all people out and doors locked. Currently, after the adoption of the alcohol beverage ordinance about a year ago, the times are 12:30 a.m. for last call and all out and doors locked by 1 a.m.
City attorney Jimmy Skipper said the motion should be for council to direct him to prepare the ordinance for amendment. Dowdell asked if the council could waive a second reading and adopt it. Skipper said nothing could be done until council has an amendment to consider. He said he would have it prepared for the regular monthly meeting on Thursday, April 19. Dowdell rephrased his motion. During the discussion phase, Lou Chase asked Dowdell, “why are we going backwards?” She said the council had voted 5-1 to change the hours because of the number of calls for police service to the downtown area. “We need to be moving forward,” she said.
Dowdell retorted, “Do you remember who voted against it? [himself]. We are going forward now. We have constituents who want to stay out past one o’clock. What establishment are you talking about?”
“I’m not fighting for no Urban,” Dowdell said. “I’m dealing with alcohol, but Urban. I don’t care about that,” his voice steadily rising in volume.
“Don’t raise your voice at me,” Chase said to Dowdell.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Dowdell responded even louder. “I’m a grown man.”
The vote to have Skipper draw up an amendment passed 4-1 with Chase voting no. Christmas was absent for the agenda setting meeting.
So, on Thursday, during the regular monthly meeting, the first reading of the amendment was held. Dowdell made the motion to waive the second reading and vote on the amendment. He was seconded by Wilson. The vote was 4-2 with Chase and Christmas dissenting. It failed because a unanimous vote is required as stated in the city charter.