Council considering reaction to allegations against city manager

January 12, 2011 —

The members of the Hudson City Council are consulting with the city attorney and are considering their options in dealing with allegations made last month against Hudson City Manager Steve Hartsel.

In reports revealed last week, Hartsel is alleged to have performed an act of indecent exposure while driving a city-owned minivan in Adrian. While a police report was taken, no charges have reportedly been filed and the witness has reportedly declined to pursue prosecution in the matter.

As of Tuesday morning Hartsel was still on the job, and declined under the direction of his attorney to comment on the allegations. “It’s a busy time right now,” he commented. “We have several grant proposals and other actions that are drawing most of my attention.”

“We’re still thinking about what we should do,” said Hudson Mayor Dennis Smoke. “We are consulting with our attorney about this and he’s looking into the matter.”

Council has not held a meeting since the allegations were made public last week, but Smoke said he had consulted with other council members in regard to potential actions. “We’ll probably have to ask for a formal explanation,” he commented, noting that the allegations against Hartsel were not proven, and that no formal charges had been filed or conviction had been made.

The mayor also reported that he had been told by the city attorney that it wasn’t council’s job to make a determination of guilt or innocence in the matter.

Smoke noted that a regular council meeting is scheduled for next week, but it’s not clear if the matter will be on the agenda at that time, since the city attorney may not yet have rendered an opinion on what the council’s options are. “Hopefully we’re going to figure out what to do within the next week.”

The mayor noted last week that in his opinion it would be foolish for the council to move too quickly on the issue. “We don’t want to get into a situation where we reprimand or terminate someone from their post too quickly and discover that we’re still obligated to pay them over a hundred thousand dollars in salary,” he said. “That means we have to be very sure about the actions we take, and our hands are tied until then. We are looking into it and will take steps to correct what needs to be corrected if any need to be taken.”