City Councilmen Andre Knight and Reuben Blackwell blasted Councilman Lige Daughtridge for recently airing a pair of videos centering on City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney about what Daughtridge sees as a lack of response to his requests for information.
Knight made clear during Monday’s council work session that he believes Daughtridge should say he is sorry for his actions and Blackwell made clear he does not know how Daughtridge could gain traction in the future if he cannot work with the council.
Small-Toney, in response to Daughtridge’s request for police-related data, had an officer roll into the council chamber a hand truck of boxes containing more than 6,000 pages of incident reports of violent crimes dating to January 2018.
Daughtridge maintained he needs details, facts and figures to be able to make an informed decision.
Daughtridge posted a video on Oct. 6 and posted another the next day, both on YouTube and Facebook.
In the videos, Daughtridge calls for Small-Toney to provide data about crimes, show the plan to fill vacancies in the police department, show how much money is in the bank and say what is being done to collect taxes from delinquent property owners.
Daughtridge took office in December. Knight, who has been on the council since 2003, presently is mayor pro tem and as the city’s No. 2 official, he chairs council work sessions.
During Monday’s work session, the agenda included council members’ requests for information to Small-Toney and the city staff. Nearly 40 minutes into the session, that part of the agenda came up.
Roughly 15 minutes of remarks by Knight, Blackwell and Small-Toney followed.
Knight said he is certain that from time to time he and fellow council members have requested additional information from Small-Toney beyond what was discussed in a regular meeting.
“But we don’t try to publicly shame the city manager by saying she’s not providing information,” Knight said.
Knight focused on Daughtridge’s videos, saying they were “very unprofessional, unnecessary and undermining to everything that the city is doing.”
“Now, I think the city manager is owed a public apology,” he said.
Knight said that, as mayor pro tem, any problems Mayor Sandy Roberson or any council members have with Small-Toney should be brought to his attention so they can be placed on a work session agenda for a discussion.
Knight said he believes Daughtridge’s requests for information could take weeks, if not months, to answer and that he believes the magnitude of the requests is “completely a distraction” to the city organization and often would pull staff away from doing their core jobs.
Blackwell, who in 2000 joined the council after being appointed to fill a vacancy, noted he has served with three different city managers.
Blackwell said that although there were times when his perspective might vary from a manager’s perspective, he always had a respectful working relationship with the manager.
“I’m really disappointed,” Blackwell told Daughtridge. “I watched maybe 40 seconds of your video — and that’s your right to do what you want to do. But if you want to work with our council, that sure isn’t the way to get it done.
“And you can ask anything you want to like anybody else can, but the manager is not required to do everything all of us tell her to do,” Blackwell told Daughtridge.
Blackwell said that after he was first sworn in as a councilman, he had to work with the city leadership in place at the time and they had to work with him.
Blackwell also said he believes majorities change from vote to vote.
“And nobody here has a dedicated majority of opinion all the time, but effective legislation requires collegiality,” Blackwell said.
“And you took your right,” Blackwell told Daughtridge. “You did what you wanted to do. And I’m going to do what I want to do, which is say, ‘Shame on you,’ from my perspective.”
Blackwell also said he would say to Small-Toney that if she does not have a majority of folks supporting requests for information, then, “I’d move that to the edge of my desk and get to it when I got to it.”
Small-Toney, referring to the stacks of police reports, said she believes “this very blanket request” for information gives some idea of how much time and effort was spent on the part of the staff to assemble such information.
“And if the idea was for the next step for the staff to analyze all of that information so it really means something, that’s another 10 or 15 people,” Small-Toney said.
“And there were about 10 people who were assigned to get that information for you,” Small-Toney told Daughtridge. “And that’s just the base information.
“That’s not the analysis that goes into that so that you could have information available to conduct whatever analysis or whatever it is, whatever trend it is that you wanted to see,” Small-Toney told Daughtridge.
At the same time, Small-Toney, who has been city manager since 2017, said she always has been willing to work with every member of the council.
Small-Toney said that at the end of the day, “I’m very clear who makes the final decisions — and that is the City Council.”
Daughtridge, in response, said, “We’re asked to do things in this City Council that requires information. And some of the information that in the past that I’ve requested, some has been provided, a lot hasn’t and some has been provided for a small period of time.
“Oftentimes we’re asked to vote on something and say it’s going to come from the fund balance,” Daughtridge said.
The fund balance is the difference between the city’s assets and liabilities.
Daughtridge said that presently, “I don’t know how much the fund balance is” and that he is concerned about transfers from one fund to another within the municipal budget.
Daughtridge also said he has been asking for quite a long time about the collection of unpaid property taxes in the city.
“It’s not fair for one taxpayer to pay their taxes and other people not have to pay their taxes yet they receive the benefit as every other property taxpayer in Rocky Mount,” he said.