Middletown city manager’s actions focus of special council meeting

Middletown City Council has scheduled a meeting Monday to discuss City Manager Doug Adkins after a downtown business manager reported that he became loud and animated on Wednesday morning in the business.

Mayor Larry Mulligan Jr. confirmed Thursday night that Vice Mayor Tal Moon and Councilwoman Ami Vitori called for the special meeting during which they plan to enter executive session to discuss personnel matters. He declined to comment further. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at the Middletown City Building.

Vitori confirmed Friday that the personnel discussion will be about Adkins.

The Journal-News obtained a copy of an email sent to council members by Renae Theiss, a manager of Triple Moon Coffee Company who also owns The Living Tree Spiritual Center. She said the email was in response to a request from council about the incident with Adkins, which happened at about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

That came after Theiss spoke at a heavily attended City Council meeting on Tuesday night at which residents and business owners asked for action related to what has been called a growing homelessness issue in the city.

Theiss said Adkins entered the coffee shop, approached her at the register as he was getting his coffee and asked, “How long has this been going on?” She was one of 14 who raised concerns and wanted action to resolve the issue.

She said Adkins “proceeded to state very animatedly that he knew nothing about this problem until he read the post (police) Chief (Rodney Muterspaw) made on the subject last week.” Adkins also told her that he was told Vitori and the downtown business owners were “taking care of it.” He said he had no idea there were any problems going on.

Muterspaw, whose last day as police chief was Friday, wrote a social media post on Sept. 24 about the homelessness issue in the city. At the time of the post, Adkins was on vacation.

“His demeanor was obviously angry and very uncharacteristic,” Theiss wrote. “I have interacted with Doug literally hundreds of times in Triple Moon and this was absolutely unlike anything (I) have ever seen from him.”

The incident has also been posted to social media and has created controversy.

Contacted on Thursday by the Journal-News, Adkins responded:

“As far as Triple Moon, I asked how long this problem had been going on. The answer I got was that it had been a serious ongoing, serious, almost daily problem for about (eight) months. I was stunned. I was angry and told the three people in the business at that time that they were right to be upset, I understood now why so many people were so passionate about the problem, it made much more sense now, and how angry I was that my staff had not passed along timely information in months.

“Their comment was that they thought I knew and just didn’t care. I was upset and was louder than I probably should have been, but I was disparaging my staff and not anyone at Triple Moon.”

Through city spokeswoman Shelby Quinlivan on Friday afternoon, Adkins declined to comment further on the matter, saying that “it would be inappropriate due to the special council meeting scheduled for Monday.”

In her email to council members, Theiss wrote Adkins “loudly and angrily” spoke in front of “multiple customers.”

Theiss wrote that Adkins said: “I can’t (expletive) fix the problems if nobody (expletive) tells about them!” And, “I could have fixed this in two weeks, if somebody had (expletive) told me!”

“Doug seemed to be, in my opinion, coming completely unhinged, his behavior incredibly inappropriate and unprofessional, and I base that opinion on the substantial amount of interaction I have had with … him in Triple Moon over the last three years,” she wrote. “He said several times, ‘I’m not mad at you! I just don’t understand what (sic) nobody (expletive) told me about this!’ He proceeded to repeatedly deny that he had any knowledge of these problems prior to the current time, to curse and exclaim that he could have fixed it had he known before now.”

MORE: Downtown Middletown business owners upset with city on homeless issue

Theiss said several customers witnessed this display, and some of them left the coffee shop as a result.

“It was incredibly uncomfortable and embarrassing to be subjected to what felt like an ambush, publicly, by one of our city’s leaders,” Theiss wrote. “I was initially reluctant to bring this to your attention, as I have no interest in being embroiled in any conflict or drama, but I feel strongly that this behavior was appalling and wholly unbecoming of a city manager, and needs to be promptly addressed.”

Adkins has been Middletown’s city manager since June 2014. He was appointed as assistant city prosecutor in September 2014. He later became city prosecutor and later community revitalization director. Adkins had also served as a council member and vice mayor in Vandalia.

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