The City of Portsmouth is calling in some outside help in the form of an official mediator to resolve a divisive dispute between city council and city manager Derek Allen.
That announcement was made at Monday’s city council meeting.
The controversy began in December, when council voted 4-2 to remove Allen. Council cited several issues, including improper use of public funds and physically striking an employee – charges Allen vehemently denies. Allen himself spoke at Monday’s meeting, saying he wants to be re-instated and have an official hearing to clear his name.
The city manager position in Portsmouth carries more weight than it does in most cities in our region, with the city manager, not the mayor, serving as the top municipal officer.
City Solicitor John Haas says the city will hire Don Cox to serve as mediator. Cox is a former judge from Gallia county who now owns a mediation firm near Columbus. Haas says Cox does not have a relationship with either party.
Allen has agreed to the mediation on the condition that he first be presented documents outlining the charges levied against him. Council said Monday he would receive those documents.
The mediation is set for Saturday, January 20. The time and place have not yet been released. Council Vice President Kevin E. Johnson says the meeting will be public, but the actual mediation process will take place in executive session, behind closed doors.