Only in Coatesville.
About three weeks ago, City Manager Gary Rawlings was accused of saying that he was “uncomfortable with the blacks taking over council.” Rawlings later denied those comments, but he did admit to asking Assistant Manager Kirby Hudson if a particular matter was a “black-and-white issue” because of the way certain members of council were voting.
Daily Local reporter Eric Smith wrote that after those comments, council asked Rawlings to provide a written apology to the residents of Coatesville. He said he wrote an apology, but council has yet to approve it.
Now, Rawlings has been put on paid leave; Hudson will be the interim manager and will be paid at the manager’s rate.
At a Monday night council meeting, it seems that no one either knew or was saying precisely why Rawlings was being put on paid leave.
Council President Ed Simpson said only that council was unified in its resolution. He added that Rawlings could be reinstated as manager and no final decision on the future of his employment with the city had been made. He said council will provide an update later.
“There is no division on council, and we will continue to move in a positive direction,” Simpson said.
According to Eric Smith’s account, following the meeting, council members did not provide any specific details as to why Rawlings was placed on leave. Councilman Joseph Hamrick and Councilwoman Carrie “Villa” Hunt were not asked for comment, while Councilman David Collins and Councilwoman Ingrid Jones declined comment. Simpson said he had no specific reason for his vote to place Rawlings on leave.
Councilman Jeffrey LoPrinzi said that before he was elected and was watching council as a citizen he was uncomfortable with Rawlings.
“I didn’t like some of his procedures and policies, but it wasn’t my call at the time,” LoPrinzi said.
Loprinzi would not provide examples of the policies or procedures he did not like.
Councilman Jarrell Brazzle said Rawlings and council were simply not on the same page.
“The city was moving in one direction, and Mr. Rawlings was not moving in the same direction,” Brazzle said. “We wanted more from Mr. Rawlings. He was unable to provide what the city needed.”
Brazzle was the only member of council who would comment on whether the administrative leave was connected to the racial comments Rawlings was accused of making.
So the question needs to be asked: what the heck is going on in Coatesville?
It seems to me that this comes down to the question of whether anyone believes Rawlings when he denies making the alleged racial statements.
If council’s majority DOESN’T believe him, then he should be dismissed. If a majority DOES believe him, then put him back on the job.
All of this other nonsense about the city moving in one direction and Rawlings in another, and that he is unable to provide what the city needs, etc., etc., is just a smokescreen.
Hey council, just say what’s on your mind. Stop tap dancing around the issue here. The city again can’t afford – literally – to keep changing leadership like we change socks.
Either the city supports its manager or it doesn’t. But make the decision now and do not let this drag out for months and months. We’ve seen this scenario before in the city and nothing good comes out of it.
— Andy Hachadorian