Akron's city government is working to pick up the pieces in the wake of Mayor Garry Moneypenny's resignation.
With current City Council President Jeff Fusco moving up to be Interim Mayor, the presidency will be up for a vote for the second time in as many weeks. Current Council Vice President Mike Freeman will assume the role upon Moneypenny's resignation and Fusco's elevation, but At Large Councilwoman Linda Omobien says she won't support him when Council votes on a new president Thursday.
WAKR reporter Mike Ward says the split over who will be president is a part of the ongoing split on council, which usually pits those who supported former mayor Don Plusquellic against those who did not.
Some members of council are saying changes to the city's sexual harrassment rules and procedures are likely. Paul Levy, chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Akron and an expert on sexual harassment policies, says Moneypenny's situation was unique among sexual harassment cases in that he is the head of city government and he admitted to inappropriate behavior before an investigation was launched.
Dozens packed Akron City Council chambers, hours after interim mayor Garry Moneypenny submitted his resignation.
The Fire Marshal had to limit the crowd to 66.
But Moneypenny was not there.
Many of his supporters were, and spoke at council's public comment period.
"And there's no charges," a Ward 10 resident told council in a plea in favor of Moneypenny. "But there's many people in this room and in this city that want to nail him to the cross, simply because he admitted that did something wrong."
Questions came up about the timing of Moneypenny's resignation, set for midnight Wednesday.
Council member Tara Mosely Samples says it's more political manuevering.
"You just have to ask yourself, what's so important about Wednesday that we have to wait," Mosely Samples told reporters after the meeting, "What are we waiting on here? It's just more political games, and this is why the residents are fed up."
The man who will become the third Akron mayor in under two weeks - current council president Jeff Fusco - had little to say to a crush of TV cameras and microphones.
"Akron's a tough town, Akron is a loyal town," Fusco said, "we've seen that that time and time again, people leaving and coming back. We're a tough town and we're going to be just fine."
But Fusco did once again say he's not running for mayor in this year's elections.
Some of the back and forth at council involved how Jeff Fusco will be replaced as city council president...when he becomes interim mayor later this week.
Council vice president Mike Freeman earlier said he would not become president.
But after the second change in the city's top office in under two weeks, Freeman says he'll serve as council president - temporarily, for seven months.
Freeman says the "universe has changed" for Akron, but he's eager to run again for his Ward 9 council seat to start again in January.
Freeman will automatically become president when Fusco moves to the mayor's office, but council members Tara Mosley-Samples and Linda Omobien called for a special meeting to handle outstanding council business - Thursday at 12:15 PM.
In a statement delivered by email, interim Mayor Garry Moneypenny announced he would no longer seek to serve out the remainder of the unexpired term left by the Plusquellic resignation in the wake of the blockbuster revelation of "too personal encounter" with a female co-worker at Akron City Hall.
"Upon reflection, I believe that staying on as interim Mayor is not in the best interests of the citizens of Akron. I believe under the circumstances I would not be able to operate effectively and move the City forward during the next seven months. Therefore, I am resigning from the office of Mayor effective Midnight, Wednesday, June 10, 2015."
The decision to step down follows three days of tumult after Moneypenny admitted to the incident and said he would not run for election in the city's primary or general election this fall, but instead would serve out the remaining term of office through the end of the year. There was widespread outcry and negative public opinion ranging from calls for a deeper investigation to determine liability of the city to possible criminal behavior but it was clear Moneypenny had lost the support of a majority of City Council members, including those who sided with him along ideological grounds.
City Council tonight was expected to debate a vote of confidence on Moneypenny's continued service in the mayor's office, but is was undetermined if the vote would have any binding power. Council President Jeff Fusco, who took the gavel from Moneypenny just a week ago following Moneypenny's swearing-in at East High School, told the Beacon Journal that decision was up to Moneypenny alone.
According to the city charter, Fusco would take the reins as mayor when Moneypenny's resignation is effect Wednesday. It would mark Akron's third mayor in the past ten days. Fusco has said he would serve as interim mayor but had no intention of seeking the office and would instead file for his at-large Council seat instead. He also serves as chair of the Summit County Democratic party.
Moneypenny's decision also throws control of the city council into question; Fusco's elevation to council president was along a 7-5 vote and that slim margin is likely to also be reflected when the group of three at-large and 10 ward members would have to vote again on a new Council President.
The news that Akron Mayor Garry Moneypenny engaged in inappropriate behavior with a city employee during his last week as mayor sparked reaction both in favor of and against Moneypenny on Friday's edition of the Jasen Sokol Show.
One caller wondered what former mayor Don Plusquellic thinks of the situation. WKYC's Phil Trexler reports area Democrats are asking Plusquellic to run for another term.
Many callers said Moneypenny made the right move by deciding not to run. Many others said Moneypenny should stay, noting his time on City Council and that all people have things they would not want made public. One caller suggested that the decision should be put to Akron voters. Another questioned Moneypenny's decision to be sworn in as mayor last weekend.
Council member at large Mike Williams is running for mayor, and now, he won't see interim mayor Garry Moneypenny on the September mayoral primary ballot.
In a YouTube video from his home and posted by Akron Beacon Journal reporter Katherine Antoniotti, Akron mayoral hopeful Mike Williams says the interim mayor understands the gravity and impact of his situation by dropping out of the race.
But Williams, Akron's longest-serving member of council and the last major candidate to take on former Mayor Don Plusquellic in a city mayoral primary, says that though Moneypenny stepped away from the mayoral election his disclosures will hurt his ability to remain an effective interim mayor.
"It's extremely unfortunate, given the circumstances," Williams said, adding "I don't see how he can remain in a position as a mayor under these circumstances."
Any other potential candidates have just a few days to join the race. The filling deadling for the Akron mayoral race and other city offices is June 10. So far, WAKR sources say former Council President Marco Sommerville and incumbent Summit County Executive Russ Pry are not considering a run. Prosepctive candidates getting mentions by political insiders include County Council's Frank Communale and Ilene Shapiro, Summit County Clerk of Courts Daniel Horrigan, State Senator and former Mayor Tom Sawyer and former State Representative Vernon Sykes among the democratic party candidates with political name recognition.
Sawyer would be an ironic candidate; it was his resignation with time left on his term nearly three decades ago in 1986 to serve in Congress that put then-Council President Don Plusquellic in the Mayor's office. Akron attorney Eddie Siplen has announced plans to run for the post on the Republican ticket.
In a statement loaded with apologies to a city hall employee he's known for 14 years, his wife of 25 years Sandy, his cabinet members, the Moneypenny family and the citizens of Akron, Garry Moneypenny's political ambitions flamed out because of inappropriate touching of a female co-worker at City Hall who was congratulating him on his appointment as interim mayor during the transition following then-Mayor Don Plusquellic's resignation a month ago.
"I take full responsibility for my actions," Moneypenny said, adding he would not run for Mayor but would serve the remainder of the term he assumed only five days ago. "I turned a good-bye hug into a too personal encounter...I clearly violated a professional and personal boundary." In the Q&A following the statement, Moneypenny noted no charges or complaints had been filed.
"I regret violating the very same principles I've spent my entire career upholding," Moneypenny said, noting his career as a law enforcement officer included working with victim assistance programs.
Reporters pressed Moneypenny about whether it's okay to remain in office if it's not okay to run for a full term.
"I have been elected to this position by my peers on council and put into this position as our charter (provides)," said Moneypenny. I believe that I am still at this point the best to move forward with this city on an interim basis."
If it's okay to remain in the position for six month, then why not run for a full term?
"I've made a mistake here," said Moneypenny. "There are people who got out of this election race so I could run and this gives them plenty of time to go out and get their signatures at this point."
(City of Akron) In my last week in office as president of city council, I behaved inappropriately with a city employee, who came to my office to wish me well on my transition to mayor.
In the emotion of the moment, I turned a good-bye hug into a too-personal encounter. I have known this employee for over 14 years. We have always had a very professional relationship. And I clearly violated a professional and personal boundary.
Words cannot describe the remorse I feel for my actions.
I spent 37 years in law enforcement. I've spent years in service to Victim's Assistance. I regret violating the very same principles I've spent my career upholding.
I offered my unconditional apology to this employee. I apologized to my wonderful wife of 25 years. I apologized to my cabinet members. And now, I offer my apology to the citizens of Akron who trust me to serve as mayor.
I take full responsibility for my actions. I know this incident calls my character and my trustworthiness into question. For this reason, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for election to mayor and I will not appear on the ballot in September.
I will do my best to serve as the city's interim mayor and will pledge my support to the new administration when the new mayor is elected.
Mayor Moneypenny's replacement as the president of Akron City Council has been determined.
It's Councilmember At Large Jeff Fusco, who was elected Monday afternoon in a special council meeting.
It took two ballots for Fusco to be elected council president over council member Russell Neal, due to an error in a vote on the first ballot. Council member Jim Hurley, who nominated Fusco for the position, voted in error for himself on the first ballot.
The vote for Fusco as council president was 7 to 5.
Council members Bob Hoch, Tara Mosley-Samples, Linda O'mobien, Mike Williams and Neal himself voted for Neal.
Akron has gone nearly three full decades with the same mayor, and this weekend caps off Don Plusquellic's 28-year run in office. Marco Sommerville, planning director in the city of Akron, called into the Ray Horner Morning Show to remember Plusquellic's tenure, saying he put Akron in a much better place now than it was in 1987. Because he is calling from China, Sommerville says Akron doing "very well" in the international scene.
Akron mayor Don Plusquellic wasn't at the last Akron City Council meeting before his resignation at the end of May. But his successor, council president Garry Moneypenny, was there on Monday night, running his last meeting before his June 1st move to the mayor's office.
Council was set to deal with replacing Moneypenny at the meeting, but tabled the resolution after discussion at a caucus earlier Monday.
City council is off next Monday due to the Memorial Day holiday. At council's next meeting on June 1st, Moneypenny says vice president Mike Freeman will start the process of filling his Ward 10 seat. "He'll pick a committee, that will select the next Ward 10 councilperson," Moneypenny tells WAKR.net, "then that committee will bring a name to the whole body so the whole body can vote".
Moneypenny says that vote will likely happen by the second meeting in June. That person would have to run in the September election to keep the seat past this year... an election that now includes all council members, and the mayor's post.
Then-mayor Moneypenny will also not be involved in the process to replace him as council president. That should happen at the June 1st meeting. Moneypenny isn't talking about who might replace him either in Ward 10, or in his role leading council.
But council member Tara Moseley-Samples has a favorite for council president. "I would like to see (at large council member) Linda O'Mobien. Absolutely," Moseley-Samples tells WAKR.net. "I think that she is a wealth of information and knowledge. We've never had a woman council president before. Ever."
Until a Ward 10 council member is chosen, at-large council members will handle calls and requests from the ward....as council has done in the past for previous ward council vacancies.