City Clerk Lisa Lambert has spent two weeks without the ability to email all city employees at the same time and it now appears the Mobile City Council will take action against what members have called “censorship” by Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
Without giving further detail publicly, council Vice President Levon Manzie asked council attorney Wanda Cochran to “move forward on an item we discussed.”
While it’s clear the council would like to legislate the issue in some way, it’s unclear whether the board would try to compel the administration to add back Lambert’s access to the “all city” email list, or as Councilman Fred Richardson hinted, compose its own email list.
Councilman Joel Daves began to defend the administration, saying email access was an administrative duty, but Manzie cut him off, adding that the issue wasn’t on the current week’s agenda.
“You brought it up,” Daves said.
Councilman John Williams said that he doesn’t “believe in censorship” and it can “go both ways.”
Manzie accused Daves of commenting on the item without knowing what was in it.
“You don’t even know what we’re preparing and you’re already waving the white flag,” he said.
Daves responded, “apparently everybody else does,” before dropping the subject.
Lambert had her “all-city” email list permissions suspended after she sent a council-approved press release related to raises to all city employees at once.
Stimpson’s Director of Special Projects Matt Anderson told councilors the press release Lambert sent out was factually incorrect and that contributed to her suspension. Councilors dispute the claim that false information was disseminated in the release.
The council had approved the raises for all merit-system employees, but left out members of Stimpson’s administration who had been appointed. Despite threatening a veto, Stimpson allowed the merit-employee raises to go through for approval by the Mobile County Personnel Board. The raises went into effect on Saturday, May 25.
The two sides remain embroiled in a mediation for a lawsuit filed by Stimpson over which branch of the city’s government has authority to hire, fire and contract with employees.
Lambert told councilors she uses the “all-city” email function to send council press releases and to send out information in case of emergencies.
Manzie asked that the item related to email access be introduced “as soon as possible.” The council’s next meeting will be held Thursday, June 6, at 10;30 a.m. A pre-conference meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in the council’s conference room on the ninth floor of Government Plaza.
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