Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson asks City Manager to resign

The last time Savannah looked for a City Manager — less than two years ago — the process proved divisive and ugly. Then-Mayor Otis Johnson and the other eight members of City Council ultimately selected Assistant-turned-Interim City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney. That decision was widely viewed as having been made because the elected leaders preferred a black candidate for the position.

But yesterday, Mayor Edna Jackson announced after a lengthy executive session of council that she has asked Small-Toney to resign. Confidence has been steadily eroding after an ugly string of problems, including some serious problems in the city’s purchasing department, the hiring of a high-priced emergency management director and consultant with questionable qualifications, and sloppy record-keeping of the City Manager’s own travel expenses. As I noted in a post on my own blog last evening, the final straw for me — as a citizen willing to give her a chance — came when Small-Toney suggested earlier this week that the city divert most of the $19 million set aside for a new arena to renovations of our 40-year-old existing one.

From today’s Savannah Morning News:

Mayor Edna Jackson has asked for City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney’s resignation and, with a majority of council support, will take it to a public vote for dismissal if necessary.

If Small-Toney resigns, she will be entitled to six months’ pay as severance, or $95,287. If council is forced to take formal action, the city manager would receive two months’ pay, or $31,762.

Council will convene a week from today and will hold a special one-hour session at 10 a.m. to allow members of the public to speak. Afterward, they will take formal action, either to approve her resignation or proceed with her dismissal.

Mayor Jackson was an at large member of council when Small-Toney was chosen City Manager, and I can’t say exactly when the mayor’s feelings began to change. But Jackson looks pretty good right now by acting decisively rather than seeing support for Small-Toney continue to crumble.

In the Savannah Morning News article linked above, Alderman Van Johnson is quoted as saying that the city needs “positive, visionary leadership.” I agree completely.

5 comments

  1. polpol says:

    This was a long time coming but was not unexpected. Now, the City can start rolling forward once again…..let the selection process begin….the big question now is who will be the interim and will she go asway quietly….I would guess not.

  2. drjay says:

    as much as i think she’s incompetent and needs to go, i’m not sure this is a done deal yet…she has 3 fairly strong supporters on the council still and support from various “leaders” in the community who sound ready and willing to dig in to fight this…

    • Bill Dawers says:

      I’ve learned never to say never in Savannah, but I don’t think Jackson, Johnson, and some of the other council members would be backing this move if they didn’t have a rock solid majority of council ready to fire her if she refuses to resign. I suspect — or maybe just hope — that after a few of those community folks have time to hear more about the management issues (pretty sure more details are forthcoming) and to listen to their fellow citizens, we’ll see some of the rhetoric taken down a notch.

      • polpol says:

        Those community leaders come from a segment within a segment of the community and cannot be viewed as representative of the views of that broader community….this has been hinted at for a couple of weeks and apparently there are some issues that may or may not surface. It is pretty clear that Madam Mayor held tight control of this and steered it forcibly forward. Kudos to her for her leadership.

  3. Robin Wheeler says:

    I tend to think that something happened in this week’s finance meeting that was the final straw for Edna. Edna scored some major points from the opposite side of her aisle for showing some backbone on this. Kudos to Madam Mayor.

    If RST does indeed exit stage left, who is up to bat?

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