Council Members Call Mayor’s Special Meeting a “Witch-hunt”

Posted on July 26, 2023 by Romi White

Milton City Council Members Jeff Snow and Roxanne Meiss labeled a special meeting called for this evening by Mayor Heather Lindsay a witch-hunt. Snow went on to deem Lindsay’s behavior “unprofessional” and “disgraceful.”

The actions that led up to tonight’s meeting started with Scott Collins, the top candidate to replace retiring City Manager Randy Jorgensen, withdrawing his name from consideration for the job not once but twice.

The drama started before Collins was even offered the job on Tuesday, July 11.

City Clerk Dawn Molinero on Thursday, July 20 sent a timeline to a local media outlet. Per Molinero’s timeline, on Monday, July 10, Pam Mitchell, who lost a 2018 bid for a city council seat, sent an email, blind copying a group and alleging concerns over the future City Manager’s contract/salary. Molinero went on to state that on that same day, July 10, a different citizen contacted her to say there was “word on the street” that there was a “plan to sabotage the contract negotiations if the position was offered to Mr. Scott Collins” but that “no specifics given.”

“It made us look stupid, it made us look bad,” said Councilwoman Roxanne Meiss of Molinero’s communication with the press, which also included other allegations.

The day after the rumors began, Tuesday, July 11, Snow made a succesful motion to offer Collins the position. Snow received unanimous support from his fellow council members.

However, by Saturday, July 15, Collins withdrew his name from consideration, stating he heard a rumor that “there is a coordinated undercurrent effort” to make contract negotiations or terms “unsuccessful.” Although he briefly rescinded his withdrawal on Monday, July 18, the next day Collins submitted his second and final withdrawal.

Many allegations were asserted as to the reason Collins declined the job, but Snow and others say Lindsay was trying to assign blame on the City Attorney Alex Andrade.

Councilman Mike Cusack on July 13 asked Molinero to convey to the council that Andrade not included him, as the council’s designee, in contract collaborations. But emails reveals Andrade simply asked Collins questions regarding his preference on material items to be addressed in any proposal. 

A records request by South Santa Rosa News also reveals that Cusack had told Collins he would be offered $135,000, but Cusack in discussions with Andrade suggested $128,000. Andrade questioned Cusack about the difference in salary amounts. 

During tonight’s special meeting Lindsay complained that she did not like Andrade’s communication with her following Thursday’s meeting, pointing out that she wanted to be “transparent about what had transpired.”

Cusack made a motion, seconded by Councilwoman Marilyn Farrow, to terminate the City’s contract with Andrade, sparking heated words from other council members. Subquently, Cusack amended the motion to state Andrade’s communicate as City Attorney had been “inappropriate.” Cusack’s amended motion failed when all council members, other than Farrow, opposed it, resulting in its failure by a 5-2 vote with Councilmen Snow, Jason Vance, Matt Jarrett, Casey Powell and Councilwoman Roxanne Meiss supporting Andrade.

“I’ve got nothing but admiration for our City Attorney, and it sickens me that he has to deal with this,” Snow said.

Retiring City Manager Randy Jorgensen also spoke up for Andrade.

“There is some poison in this town,” noted Milton Businesswoman Cassandra Sharp, who said Milton has a pattern of problems and that she wants to see the City look into Molinero’s involvement in the Collins’ issue next.

“We’ve got to change as a City. Nobody is going to want to come here,” said City of Milton resident Teresa Messick, wife of former councilman Jimmy Messick. “Are we going to continue to dog and trash…none of us up here are perfect.”