The Indianola Board of Aldermen's meeting suffered a lapse on Monday night after a decision to add a presentation to the agenda from Tennessee-based Collier Insurance Company was vetoed by Mayor Steve Rosenthal prompting three of the aldermen to announce their intent to leave the Zoom video conferencing session.
Aldermen Marvin Elder, Sam Brock, Gary Fratesi and Ruben Woods attended the meeting. Alderman Darrell Simpson was absent. Elder indicated from the onset that he had made a written request prior to the meeting to have the item added.
“I emailed you a request to place Collier Insurance on this agenda," said Elder.
“Correct," Rosenthal replied.
Elder continued, "And I also delivered a hard copy to you to place Collier Insurance on this agenda." Rosenthal again acknowledged that Elder was "correct." He also asserted, "And I did send you an email in response."
Elder acknowledged the same and then made his official motion to place the presentation on the night's agenda.
Brock seconded the motion and Rosenthal called for a vote.
Only affirmative responses were voiced, no nays were heard.
With that, Rosenthal then called for individual responses. Elder, Brock and Woods voted yes, but Fratesi was silent apparently due to technical difficulties with his connection.
After repeated callouts to Fratesi to respond, Rosenthal then declared, "Well the motion passes 3-0, but I am going to veto it, due to the fact that we did give them (Collier) instructions to give us the best thing for our employees and to send it to our consultant. And at this time, that has not happened, so until that happens, we will not."
Rosenthal continued to explain his position.
“Because currently we can make one move and save every city employee $32.50. That's what I would like for us to consider, but either way we have a paid consultant. I am going to veto that motion,” Rosenthal said, “Close out the meeting tonight or we can have a second motion.”
Elder made several attempts to interrupt Rosenthal as he was speaking and when he was finally recognized, Elder said, “Well, I cannot in good conscience stay within this meeting.”
He expressed that by a unanimous vote it was agreed to add Collier to the agenda.
“Mayor, we cannot act like a dictator and showing yourself like '45' and at this time I am exiting this meeting,” Elder said.
Rosenthal thanked him and said, “That's fine.”
He then called for any additional motions and at that point Fratesi was able to vocally rejoin the session. Rosenthal promptly explained what had taken place while Fratesi was incommunicado.
Woods then spoke up and addressing Rosenthal, he expressed his intent to also leave the meeting.
"I'm not going to sit and be a part of a meeting... I don't know what you are afraid of. He said just put it on the agenda. I could understand if we voted for it and you vetoed it. We're just putting it on the agenda for consideration and for discussion,” Woods said.
Rosenthal emphasized again that Collier's representative was aware of the stipulations for presenting his proposal. He asserted that he was willing to hear the proposal in a special call meeting after the city's paid consultant has had a chance to look at the information from Collier.
Woods then inquired about the consultant's whereabouts and Rosenthal said he had spoken to him around 6 p.m., and the consultant had not received any information from Collier Insurance. Woods then formally declared his intent to leave the meeting as well.
“That's fine, okay, sorry,” said Rosenthal.
With that pronouncement, Brock too then addressed Rosenthal.
“Due to the confusion that's going on concerning the insurance, I am exiting the meeting also,” he said.
Rosenthal then declared that he was closing out the meeting and again emphasized that the city is now able to save the employees $32 a month and announced that their next regularly scheduled meeting would be July 27.
“So, y'all can get off if you like, but once it is given to our consultant then we will reconvene the meeting." And with that, Rosenthal ended the video conference for all participants.
Note: In an email obtained from Mayor Rosenthal on Tuesday, Hunter Hollingsworth, Producer, Collier Insurance made an official request to review the board-approved policy that Rosenthal mentioned on Monday night that requires all proposals be submitted to the city's insurance consultant.
He wrote in part, “I would like to request a copy of the City of Indianola’s board-approved policy that outlines the procedure, review and evaluation of proposals for employee health insurance and other related benefits. Upon receipt and review of this requested board-approved policy by Collier Insurance, we would like to meet with you all to discuss what, if any, enumerated specifications (we) have not followed. If such review and meeting determines that we have erred in our quest to provide an alternative quote to you all, we will gladly comply with all terms of your board-approved policy.”
In addition, Hollingsworth stated, “If such board-approved policy does not exist, we surmise that arbitrary tactics are being employed that are causing an intentional delay in the presentation of the alternative benefits option requested by the City of Indianola Board of Aldermen to benefit another firm, broker or consultant.”
Rosenthal responded, “Our protocol has been for the last 10 years during my tenure and the majority of the previous mayor’s two terms that Mr. Lee Rodgers review and recommend on all policies.”
He also attached what he said was a copy of a renewal payment to TLJ Partners contract starting in 2010 and continuing to this current year.
He added, “There has not been a single policy since 2010 (I cannot speak prior to my term, but he was employed prior) that has been renewed or new to be implemented without his review and recommendations.”
Rosenthal concluded his statement by reaffirming the city's desire to hear what Hollingsworth had to offer. “We are very much interested in reviewing a proposal, but if you cannot work under our protocol that is your decision. We look forward to hear what you have to offer, and I will schedule a special call meeting immediately once our protocol is followed.”