Beachwood City Council held a 2½ hour meeting on an undisclosed personnel matter with special counsel Oct. 4.
The meeting did not include Mayor Martin S. Horwitz, who told the Cleveland Jewish News that he was not “invited.”
City Council spent part of the time with special counsel and part of the time in private deliberations.
Less than a day later, an agenda for a special city council meeting was posted on the Beachwood city website for Oct. 7, at which city Law Director Diane Calta will be present, City Council President Brian Linick told the CJN on Oct. 6.
He would not confirm that the two meetings are connected.
“They are for different purposes,” Linick said.
Horwitz told the CJN on Oct. 6 that he does not intend to attend the Oct. 7 meeting.
“I can’t say anything because I’m not aware of what the meeting is about,” Horwitz said. “They have not informed me of anything other than it’s a meeting strictly with council. That’s all I can tell you.”
All seven council members were present at the committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 4.
Asked whether the mayor would attend the Oct. 7 special city council meeting, Linick said, “I don’t know whether he’ll be there or not.”
Linick called the meeting to order just after 4 p.m. and entered executive session on his own motion and with a roll call vote prior to the arrival of special counsel. Whitney Crook, city council clerk, left the room and greeted Carole Rendon, a partner of BakerHostetler, as she entered city hall. Crook did not stay to take notes during the executive session. Linick said no notes were taken during the executive session.
Rendon and a second woman arrived at about 4:10 p.m. They left at about 5:45 p.m. Council continued discussions behind closed doors and voted to end executive session just before 6:30 p.m., adjourning at 6:32 p.m.
On Aug. 22, City Council retained Rendon, who is a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and BakerHostetler as special counsel, compensating the firm at an amount not to exceed $30,000. Minutes of that meeting deemed it “an urgent matter.”
At the Aug. 22 meeting, Linick introduced a motion, which was seconded by Councilman Alec Isaacson, that Ordinance No. 2019-95 to retain outside counsel be adopted. The vote was 7-0 and the ordinance was presented the next day to the mayor for his signature. He did not sign the ordinance and by city charter, the ordinance took effect seven days after passage as though the mayor had signed it.
Linick would not identify the second woman at the Oct. 4 meeting, citing executive session as the reason.
He also replied, “No comment,” when asked what the next step in the process would be immediately following the Oct. 4 meeting.
The Oct. 7 agenda was posted on the city’s website at 3:10 p.m. Oct. 5.
The agenda reads: “1. Executive Session discussion to consult with Legal Counsel regarding a personnel matter.” The only other item is the standard: “2. Any other matters coming before City Council.”
Linick told the CJN on Oct. 6 the entire council decided to hold the Oct. 7 special meeting.
He declined to explain the distinction between the definition of a committee of the whole and a special city council meeting.
“I would talk to our law director to ask that,” he said. “It’s all set forth in our charter.”
Asked whether Rendon and BakerHostetler’s work are finished, Linick said, “I can’t comment on that, but they are currently engaged as outside counsel for the city.”