THURSDAY: Mostly sunny. High: 83. Winds: Light West.THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 57. Winds: Light Southeast.FRIDAY: Partly sunny with a shower or thunderstorm. High: 84. Winds: Light Northwest.Joe ...more »
Audio of Private Springfield Council Meetings Released
After pressure from Springfield aldermen, city leaders have released audio from two private meetings.
It's something the public rarely gets to hear: discussion from a closed meeting in which city leaders talk about a CWLP employee who was fired for using city equipment to cut down a family member's tree--on city time. That man challenged the termination through his union, which led to arbitration.
The city needed the sole witness to the incident, Eric Reiss, at the arbitration because Reiss claims the CWLP employee intimidated him--which is grounds for termination.
In a closed meeting, city attorney Mark Cullen came under fire from aldermen for saying this about the witness in October: "He is refusing our subpoena for the arbitration hearing."
Then in November, saying this: "He told the Mayor he's unavailable. He hadn't been returning our calls the entire time we'd been getting a hold of him."
One alderman said, "Give us the straight facts. Being uncooperative and not talking is different than saying we couldn't get a hold of the guy."
Reiss addressed city council last week, asking why he never got to testify or present his evidence before a decision was made.
Cullen said they made several attempts to get Reiss to the arbitration meeting.
ABC NewsChannel 20 spoke to Eric Reiss on the phone Wednesday. He wanted to listen to the tapes, before an interview with us. Later, after we called him several times, we never heard back.
Despite several aldermen saying--in private--the city is subject to more criticism for allowing the accused employee back on the job, he was. An arbitrator ruled in his favor. He got his job back with a 30-day suspension and no back pay.
From the audio tapes, we also learned the employee's use of CWLP equipment on city time for personal reasons isn't grounds for firing.
In the audio tapes, we hear a female alderman say, "Nothing in the rules says up to and including discharge?" Cullen replies, "Not for that offense."
We asked Cullen for more explanation. He said, "This collective bargaining agreement does specify a progressive discipline so there are only certain things that would immediately rise to a level that could be a terminable offense."
To hear the entire audio clips from the two closed meetings, visit the Raw News section on our website.