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City manager defends himself at study session

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At City Council’s study session, a discussion about administrative evaluations escalated into a heated debate between mayor and city manager.

By Liam Adams

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Staff writer

The June 11 Brighton City Council study session went from civil discourse to a heated debate after Philip Rodriguez, city manager, accused Mayor Ken Kreutzer and Mayor Pro Tem J.W. Edwards of attacking him.

Council members Matt Johnston and Mary Ellen Pollack echoed Rodriguez’s sentiment, calling previous incidences evidence of a “witch hunt.”

The conversation escalated from a talking point about evaluations for the city manager and city attorney, which are conducted on an annual basis.

While Kreutzer informed Rodriguez that he’s due for a formal evaluation, Rodriguez explained that he’s already been evaluated within the past year via an October executive session. As a result, Rodriguez said, he shouldn’t have to be evaluated in the coming months.

Before that October session, Edwards and Kreutzer approached Rodriguez. They indicated they “had the votes [city council] to fire me,” Rodriguez said.

Edwards quickly responded by saying, “I don’t remember having that conversation at all” and Kreutzer followed shortly thereafter, “I never had that conversation.”

In addition, Kreutzer and Rodriguez debated over a follow-up meeting at Buffalo Run Golf Course, where Kreutzer said Rodriguez brought up the idea of resigning, while Rodriguez said it was the other way around. 

There was little explanation of the source of the conflict, and Pollack said that city council had given Rodriguez a glowing review for his last formal evaluation, which was before the October executive session.

However, Johnston implied the attacks stemmed from Rodriguez’s investigation into unspent utilities funds for water, wastewater and storm drainage funds. In October, a Blade investigation found that the city raised the water rate, but spent a small portion of the revenue generated from the rate increase. While the Blade previously reported there was more than $130 million in unused funds, the city said the total is around $70 million. 

Correction: The story previously stated that there was $130 million in unused funds, based off a previous Blade investigation. The story's since been updated to reflect the figure provided by the city.