Fort Smith Administrator Ray Gosack heads under the microscope again on Tuesday (July 17) as the Fort Smith Board of Directors prepares for an executive session to evaluate his performance.
In May, the board collectively agreed that Gosack had performed his role satisfactorily, but City Directors Steve Tyler and Pam Weber, who moved at the July 10 study session to place Gosack's second review in two months on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled meeting, have fueled speculation.
“I am very pleased with the leadership of Ray Gosack. He has taken our city to a new level of excellence. The March tax vote to continue our city's progress spoke loudly," City Director Don Hutchings said Thursday (July 12). "We have much to do. Our future is bright. The unusual board action of continuous evaluations of our City Administrator sends the wrong message. Micro-managing is not our solution. I have no idea why the directors are calling for another evaluation. We just had one May 15."
Hutchings added that he hoped "we can move on to important issues, like jobs and new businesses coming to our great city."
Fort Smith Director Andre Good seemed even more off-guard than Hutchings.
"I am shocked! Although I can not mention what was discussed in the board's executive session, I am curious to know what's happened since Ray's last review 2 months ago. Can you imagine what this looks like to folks outside of Fort Smith and our citizens?" Good wrote in a Facebook post.
On Wednesday (July 11), City Director Kevin Settle asked the City Clerk to remove the item from the July 17 agenda, but was unable to obtain majority support, thus ensuring that the impromptu performance review will occur.
Settle released a statement to The City Wire on Thursday, saying he "did not think it (the executive session) was necessary to do. We just gave Ray a review two months ago and he is doing a great job for the city and citizens of Fort Smith. The board of directors should be focused on how we improve the positive economic climate for the city. ... The board ... needs to move forward and continue to look on how to improve our city for all the citizens."
Joining Tyler and Weber in support of the review are City Directors Philip Merry and George Catsavis.
On Wednesday, The City Wire posed the following question to all seven directors: Our records show no indication of corruption, incompetence, or malfeasance (firing offenses) committed by the City Administrator since May's satisfactory review. From each of your perspectives, what action or inaction has occurred from then until now to motivate the upcoming review on July 17?
Catsavis, Merry, and Weber, replied they were not ready to comment. Tyler did not respond, but on Tuesday told The City Wire "I just think it’s time that we reviewed personnel matters. I can’t really say any more than that."
Only four directors are needed to terminate employment for city personnel, and under Fort Smith Municipal Code Chapter 2, Article II, Section 2-34(a), the mayor "shall have the power of veto over all decisions made by the board of directors, except with respect to matters relative to city personnel."