By Steve White firstname.lastname@example.org
Grand Island City Council members blast Mayor Jay Vavricek, as they call a special meeting to formally reprimand the mayor for recent decisions.
Council members say it speaks to their frustration that they're meeting at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday to take a vote on something called a censure, an almost unheard of move to issue a public challenge.
At the grocery store, in church, wherever Grand Island city council members go, they hear the comments.
"Just real concern about what's happening and why things are happening," Councilwoman Linna Dee Donaldson said.
Few seem to understand what Mayor Jay Vavricek is thinking. He was praised when he asked City Administrator Mary Lou Brown to resign.
She had been under a cloud of controversy, from calls to privatize the wastewater plant to lawsuits over the lack of a fire chief. It seemed everyone was ready to move forward with Brown out of the picture, and that's when the mayor announced Brown was continuing to work at city hall.
Donaldson said, "I don't agree with it because I don't think that was positive for Mary Lou, for the staff, for the city."
"The Mayor chose to ignore the consultive advice and proceed in an opposing direction," council members, including Donaldson wrote in their call for a formal reprimand.
Council members say the idea of "reinstating" Brown has created "disorganization" in city hall. The council is concerned that hurts operations of the city, and provides a security risk, while diminishing public confidence.
Already facing a possible recall election, Vavricek now faces a public scolding from city council members who say he ignores their wishes.
"I welcome the city council discussion," Vavricek said. "It will provide us a unique time to shed light on so much that justifies my decision and actions."
They're actions that find council members taking this rare step to call a special meeting with one purpose, to censure, or formally reprimand the mayor.
Donaldson said, "Only reason for doing it is to get things out in the open and say this is where we are, here's where we need to go. Let's get moving."
It took a call of four council members to bring about the special meeting. They were council president Peg Gilbert, plus John Gericke, Scott Dugan, and Donaldson.
In their note, they condemn Vavricek for "ignoring the assemblies [sic] will and substituting his own."
The council "pledges to work actively and collaboratively to restore clear, effective, and respectful communication with the Mayor. The council will be vigilant in assuring that issues for the citizens of Grand Island are managed with clarify, efficiency and integrity."
They'd like Vavricek to reconsider his actions, and bring in a new city administrator.
The meeting will be broadcast live on Grand Island Television, Charter Cable channel 6 and analog channel 56, and rebroadcast periodically for approximately one week.
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