Ontario city manager contract approval sparks spirited discussion

Last week the city council awarded incoming City Manager Al Boling a $250,000 annual contract when he assumes the position on Dec. 29. The item was unanimously approved by the council but it drew fire from one councilman, claiming he hadn’t had the opportunity to obtain a copy of the document.

Councilman Paul Vincent Avila, only after the contract had been approved, mentioned during council comments he had previously asked to get a copy of the agreement and Boling’s resume to no avail.

“I will not stop. I want to have that contract and ensure I’m doing the job I’m elected to do,” Avila said.

Every meeting, the council is given an electronic packet or print out of the agenda, staff reports and exhibits or attachments.

The council was given a three-page staff report as well as an attachment of the contract agreement, which led to councilman Alan Wapner to sternly reprimand Avila.

“When falsehoods are put out there, left unanswered, then they are assumed to be true,” Wapner said. “I’m not going to see any of my staff members get a black eye over this.”

Wapner told Avila any questions about Boling’s qualifications should have been addressed prior to the council’s unanimous decision to hire him to replace outgoing city manager Chris Hughes.

Not only did Wapner remind Avila that the agreement was attached, he told the newest council member that he is support to read the documents before voting on the items.

“If you choose to vote on an item without reading the agenda and seeing the agreement, which included in its entirety with the agenda, then that’s your fault,” he said. “That isn’t the fault of our staff or anybody in the community.”

He went on to tell Avila – that as an elected official – residents expect he be prepared and ask pertinent questions at the council meetings.

“Don’t put something out there that people are trying to hide something when the agenda is sitting right in front of you,” Wapner said.

Avila said he wanted to have the copies so that when a member of the public questioned him about the contract he would be well-versed. He added that he didn’t see anything wrong about his request.

As a former school board member for 16 years, Avila said he is familiar with approving contracts and has always “been on top of things.”

“As long as I know the residents are benefiting from the service and what have you, I’m right there along with this council,” he said. “The day it deviates is the day you’ll hear my voice.”

Which prompted Wapner to refute Avila’s statement.

Once all the council members had shared their comments, Avila attempted to bring the topic back up.

Mayor Paul Leon – who had yet to share his comments – tried to circumvent the situation, saying he would be the “Sergeant-in-arms,” of the meeting. Leon added he would not allow the council to start engaging in argumentative style conversations.

“Everybody on this council has a right to say what they want and I’m not going to hold judgment for anybody for what they say,” Leon said.

Avila again chimed in, saying he just wanted to make a clarification.

“I didn’t have an opportunity to access those two items which I requested much earlier,” he said.

Leon tried to cut off Avila, telling him that the rest of the conversation would be completed behind closed doors.

But Avila continued, saying he didn’t appreciate the comments from Wapner and he was “not his punching bag.”

Speaking over Leon, who unsuccessfully tried to get the councilman to stop, Avila said “there’s an election coming up that will remove that guy for good.”

Leon called a point of order as Avila continued to speak saying that Wapner has been here too long and he has no respect for him.

The meeting ended with Leon sharing his comments. Let’s Nov. 19 council meeting will be like.

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