The New Buffalo city manager today was placed on paid administrative leave.
The vote was three to two. The city council plans to further discuss the employment status of Rusty Geisler at its regular meeting on August 19th.
Today’s special meeting was well attended and emotional.
A standing room only crowd of about 65 people packed the council chambers.
Rusty Geisler—is a community fixture who has ten years’ experience with the city. Geisler had served as mayor, and as a councilman, before he became city manager in August of 2012.
“You need to wake up because they’re (council members) going to kill this town,” New Buffalo businessman Martin Dzuris told the crowd from the podium.
One council member further stirred the pot by playing a portion of a recorded phone conversation he had with the mayor earlier in the week in which the mayor allegedly says, “And maybe the whole slate needs to be wiped clean, I’m not opposed to that either, but we’re making a change and Rusty’s gone.”
It quickly became known that the meeting was called to accept the resignation of Rusty Geisler, however, Geisler changed his mind. “He did change his mind at the last minute, we did have discussions with him but he’s known since day one he’s an at will employee,” said Councilwoman Donna Messinger.
Geisler’s sudden change of plans left the council to improvise.
“It’s not a good situation for the City of New Buffalo and I’m truly embarrassed by what’s going on,” said Councilman Don Hatfield.
Two frustrated audience members walked out of the meeting and another was escorted out by police.
Two of the three council members who voted to place Geisler on paid administrative have only been on the council 84 days.
Both beat incumbents during recall elections in May.
“We have a city manager who was put in this position and he’s not qualified, and I’m not going to argue and say he’s not a great guy that’s what this community is saying, he’s a great guy,” said Donna Messinger. “I won’t my election by over 200 votes and we had over 200 people sign a recall that were looking for change and that’s what we’re looking for, positive change.”
No one accused Geisler of any wrong doing. Some claim that he’s just not qualified for the job. For instance, Geisler does not have a college degree, which the assistant city manager has a masters.