Hobby apologizes for late payments, council takes action

Published 10:32 pm Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Bainbridge City Council suspended City Manager Chris Hobby Tuesday at their regular meeting after a lengthy closed session and several comments by Bainbridge residents at the meeting.
Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds asked residents who came for public comment to address the council about their opinions on Hobby, who neglected to pay his personal city utility bills monthly, and not speak directly to Hobby.
Hobby made a statement to the council apologizing and offered to pay the city $640 to cover the cost of those residents who had their water shut off over the last 32 months of Hobby’s delinquency, where he chose to make annual payments instead of monthly.
Five residents came forward Tuesday, some of them asking the council to take action against Hobby, possibly with termination.
Resident Diane Logue spoke to the mayor saying when she was told no one else’s water had been shut off, that was incorrect.
“There are people in this county that can hardly afford food but they pay their bills, that is how they were taught to do things and then we have someone who makes the money that (Hobby) is making and can’t even pay their water bills,” Logue said. “I don’t understand why he is in the position, as city manager and I would like for someone to explain that to me.”
Resident Jo Fuller told the council she felt Hobby should be replaced.
Following the public comments, Hobby made a statement to the council, apologizing and admitting his mistake. He called the mistake stupid, foolish and admitted it was bad leadership.
Hobby said he received an open records request three weeks ago that he knew would impact the city and his personal life.
“I immediately shared this request with Mayor Reynolds and Tom Conger and I also notified Jeff Findley at The Post-Searchlight, and released the records to the newspaper,” Hobby said. “I thought it better to get the facts out in the public domain as quickly as possible, I still think this was the right decision.”
Hobby told the council he fell into a habit of making one annual payment on his utility account.
“In a decision that you can call stupid, a mistake or a terrible lack of judgment I fell into the habit of making one annual payment on my utility account,” Hobby said. “I understand that part of leadership is setting a good example and in this regard I have failed. I understand the anger some have expressed because their service was disconnected and mine was not. “
Hobby offered a payment to the city of $640 that the city could use to for all reconnection fees that occurred during the 32 months he made annual payments.
Reynolds called for a closed session in discussion of a personnel issue, and council reconvened after 40 minutes.
Reynolds said he and the council understood the public’s concern for this issue and the very strong opinions taken on it. Reynolds said Hobby would be suspended for one week without pay.
“It is with discussion of the council that we will suspend Mr. Hobby for one week with no pay as well as inclusion into his personnel file with this issue,” Reynolds said.  “We will be entering in that in the coming week so I will work with him on when that will begin.”