Tonight’s Ferguson City Council meeting left watchers stunned and confused after hearing City Manager Eric Osterberg announce his resignation as effective immediately while the meeting carried on without acknowledging his statement in any form.
The resignation announcement came as Councilor Toni Burrow remained insistent on a requirement for all employees to have exit interviews. After Burrow’s initial comments, Osterberg explained he had significant concerns about implementing language like Burrow wanted. He first noted concern for requiring exit interviews for people that have been terminated, then noted that there is no law requiring exit interviews. Osterberg also spoke about the city’s experience in reaching out to former staff about doing an exit interview but not successfully getting them to do one. Burrow thanked Osterberg for his opinion, then went on to say, “And I’m so happy to say that this is the governing body. We don’t need a unanimous vote from our…” when she was abruptly interrupted by Osterberg stating “Incorrect. Personnel is my purview, not the council’s.”
Councilor Burrow responded, “Okay Eric, I’m going to ask you this, this is the last time I’m going to ask you.” To which Osterberg responded, “I’m going to be speaking with you Councilor Burrow. I would like to announce my resignation effective immediately. You all have four to five days.” At that point Mayor Ella Jones called out “Eric! Eric!” Osterberg continued, “No, that is serious so that…” And over cross talk the Mayor then called for a point of order.
You can see the full clip of Burrow’s push for exit interviews here. The exchange heats up about the 12 minute mark and follows with Osterberg’s announcement of resignation.
Has he or hasn’t he really resigned? We do not know. Osterberg did remain on the zoom through the end of the meeting, which rushed through the remaining agenda to end at 8:30 for a second closed session for the council tonight.
Earlier in the meeting the council also had another moment of seemingly bad reality TV show proportions. Councilor Linda Lipka introduced, for a second a time, the appointment of Stephen Robin to the Traffic Commission. Having missed the meeting in which the first vote on his appointment was made, Lipka made it clear that the question was not whether he was a US citizen, but whether the long-time resident was legally residing here and fulfilled eligibility requirements. Further, she stated that she was troubled by the lack of giving a reason why the majority on council voted against his appointment. The vote proceeded, with Toni Burrow, Ella Jones, Phedra Nelson, and Naquittia Noah again voting against his appointment. Lipka again asked for why they voted no. Mayor Jones responded, “If a person voted no, they voted no, and they have a right to vote no or yes. They don’t have to explain it to you.”
Then Toni Burrow offered her comments, “What we do is American, all day, all day today. I don’t have to tell her or anybody else any reason. The one thing we have in this country is the right to vote. How we want to vote. And I don’t owe anybody, anybody an explanation why I vote one way or the other. Thank you. I don’t deal with foolishness.” Hear Burrow speak herself at this link.