Local News

Allen Returns to Work: City Manager pledges to work hard though tensions remain high

Nikki Blankenship
Scioto County Candor

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After a few days back in the office, City Manager Derek Allen says he is committed to doing his job and is not going to let tensions impact his ability to serve the City of Portsmouth.
“It is good to be back on the job,” Allen stated. “I took the City manager’s job in 2013 to improve the community for those of us that live and work here. I don’t consider this a job but rather a mission to make the City of Portsmouth an effective and efficient government organization that maximizes the return on citizen’s tax dollars. My parents raised me with a strong work ethic so it was very frustrating to be on paid administrative leave receiving pay, but not actually providing work for that pay. I wanted to be on the job and moving the City forward.”
Allen was able to return to work after City Solicitor John Haas delivered City Council an injunction on Tue., Jan. 30, during a special meeting held specifically for the purpose of allowing Council to hire outside counsel to represent the City in pending litigation regarding Allen’s firing.
The injunction accomplished several things, which included restoring Allen to his position; forbidding Council from making changes to Allen’s employment agreement until they comply with Ohio Revised Code, City ordinances and the City Charter; ordering Council to comply with Ohio’s Open Meetings Act; ordering Council to vacate Service Director Sam Sutherland from the position of Interim City Manager; and forbid Council from naming any other acting, interim or successor of the City Manager until the position is legally vacated.
As Allen wrapped up his third day back on the job, he made a pledge to the citizens of Portsmouth, a pledge to continue to do his job despite adversary.
“Regarding everything that has transpired over the past two months, a City Manager has to be able to set that aside and do the job that we are hired to do; that is what I have done,” Allen stated. “I am glad to be back helping to improve the services to the citizens of Portsmouth. I will do so every day.”
Allen explained that he continues to work on fostering a strong relationship with Council. He added that no matter how tense things are, he does not want the community to suffer the consequences.
“This is my third day back to work so trying to evaluate the impact of what has transpired is difficult,” Allen stated. “I strive every day to have a good, professional and courteous relationship with the six members of City Council. That will continue. I will always work diligently and hard to give my very best for the citizens of Portsmouth, whether that is in a good working environment or a difficult working environment. That is just part of the job.”
As the controversy continues, citizens remain on edge, hoping for a positive resolution. Allen says he does not know how this situation will play out.
“I really cannot predict what the resolution to this situation might be and in life none of us are guaranteed tomorrow,” he commented. “I take everything day by day. One thing is for certain, I am committed to this job and to my service here in Portsmouth. Every day I am here I will give my best effort.”
Council fired Allen on Dec. 18, 2017, at which time they presented numerous allegations against Allen that included the striking of an employee and giving unions raises without the approval of Council. After firing Allen, Council reinstated him on paid administrative leave while the two parties went into mediation. Mediation was unsuccessful. Council had planned to go into special session on Tue. Jan. 30 to hire outside counsel to represent the City in the firing of Allen, rather than using City Solicitor John Haas, who is the elected legal counsel of the City. Though the injunction Haas presented that night put Allen back at his desk, new developments are expected as a resolution remains unreached.
Portsmouth City Council meets at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building on Second Street in Portsmouth.

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