City Council once again delayed the vote on extending BARC Interim Chief Gerry Fusco's contract today, possibly killing any chance to revive the vote in the future. Fusco's initial agreement with the city, made possible via a $49,500 purchase order, expires Friday.
Health and Human Services spokeswoman Kathy Barton, who was at the meeting, said she's not sure yet what effect the delay will have on retaining Fusco's services.
After weeks of delays, Council was expected to vote -- and approve -- the contract today; Councilwoman Jolanda Jones tagged the item, saying crucial questions she raised two weeks ago still haven't answered.
The move sparked a contentious debate over whether to override her tag -- a rare Council procedure requiring ten votes. Some council members indirectly accused Jones of strategically tagging the vote to sink the contract, and not for legitimate purposes. (Jones also said she received word that Fusco said he would quit if the council didn't approve the contract today, which she described as a "tantrum." Hair Balls hasn't been able to confirm said tantrum, and whether or not it involved the holding of breath and/or stomping of feet).
Voting to override the tag were Mayor Bill White and council members Sue Lovell, Anne Clutterbuck, M.J. Kahn, Mike Sullivan, Pam Holm, Peter Brown, Toni Lawrence, and Melissa Noreiga.
Council members Wanda Adams, Ed Gonzalez, Ron Green, James Rodriguez voted to sustain the tag. Councilman Jarvis Johnson was present at the meeting but absent for the vote.
In a discussion in which the brandishing of firearms was narrowly avoided, Jones said Fusco had declined to answer some key questions during an August 21 meeting between the two, and, knowing she would miss the August 25 council meeting, she e-mailed those concerns to White that day. Specifically, Jones cited a lack of concrete benchmarks in Fusco's contract, which lists broad goals like increasing adoptions, but has no set numbers or percentages by which to definitively measure progress. (Prompting palpitations in Hair Balls's heart, White curiously described the contract as among the "most detailed" of any city contract).
Jones missed the August 25 council meeting because she was climbing a mountain in Colorado as part of a "leadership forum," prompting a dig by Lawrence, who asked rhetorically why Jones had to miss the meeting. "Was it city business, or was it not?" Lawrence said.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
In a move to get Jones to remove her tag, Clutterback asked Elena Marks, White's health director, to answer Jones's questions. When Jones barely registered Marks's presence, Clutterbuck said she was "baffled" by her colleague, who, Clutterbuck said, "gave me her word" that she wanted to ask Marks direct questions.
We'll have more in a bit.
UPDATE: We just got word that Fusco said he will stick around through the next council vote, which is September 16. (We got this from a volunteer who forwarded us an e-mail from Health and Human Services Director Stephen Williams, because it'd just be stupid for someone from the city to actually tell us what's going on).