GREEN Questions raised about the movement of a $20 million investment to UBS Group resulted in a heated discussion during a recent Green City Council meeting.
During the April 9 City Council meeting, Councilman Matthew Shaughnessy raised concerns following a post on the Hold the Line Facebook page, which shared information in regard to city investment money being moved to UBS, a Swiss multinational investment bank, which is the the same company Councilman Chris Humphrey is employed.
Shaughnessy, at the April 9 meeting, suggested that Humphrey recuse himself from voting on creating a budget stabilization fund, which was proposed by Councilman Stephen Dyer to set invested money aside for times of an economic downturn to prevent the city from having to make layoffs.
Council did not vote on the legislation because it was on second reading.
At the April 23 meeting, Humphrey said that he met with interim Law Director William Chris for a legal opinion on whether he should recuse himself from voting.
Chris presented his findings during the April 23 council meeting and said Humphrey was not required to recuse himself from the vote. While Humphrey is an employee of UBS, Chris said there are public and private divisions of the company and where the city’s investments are and where Humphrey works are separate.
Council voted against the budget stabilization fund by a 4-3 vote, with Humphrey, Councilman President Bob Young, Councilwoman Barbara Babbit and Councilman Rocco Yeargin voting against it, saying that the city already has a six-month reserve and the budget stabilization fund is not needed.
Dyer, Shaughnessy and Councilman Justin Speight voted for it.
Humphrey then asked for Chris to draw up legislation so that council is notified when any financial investments are moved in the future so a situation like this doesn’t happen again.
Humphrey, who called the Hold the Line Facebook page "one of the most despicable Facebook pages that operates in the city of Green," said during the April 9 meeting that Shaughnessy and Dyer regularly appear on that page.
Humphrey added that allegations were being made that he did something improper.
Shaughnessy, however, said he never suggested that.
Shaughnessy and Humphrey then went back and forth talking over each other at times which resulted in Young interjecting, asking Humphrey to speak and for Shaughnessy to wait.
Humphrey said he didn’t take the job being on council almost eight years ago to have his reputation impugned.
During the meeting, Humphrey said UBS is an international business and he has a two-person business in Akron and UBS serves as his back office.
Humphrey said he called Green Finance Director Steven Schmidt to find out more information about the money being moved.
“It was news to me that UBS would have any money once so ever,” Humphrey said. “I certainly didn’t know.”
Why money was moved
Schmidt said the city had money on deposit with an advisor at Morgan Stanley who moved his practice to UBS in October.
Humphrey said UBS has 6,500 advisors world-wide and he is not connected to any other advisors.
Schmidt confirmed that the moving of the money didn’t come before council as the city’s investment policy in the codified ordinances states the finance director monitors investments and can move them to the best location to get the best return on investment.
Humphrey called Shaughnessy’s actions despicable and said he should have picked up the phone and called him to ask the question about whether it was a conflict.
“No one contacted me,” Humphrey said.
Shaughnessy said he was simply asking a question.
“No one impugned your integrity on council here,” Shaughnessy said.
Humphrey shot back saying Shaughnessy was doing "nothing more than showboating."
“I think we are losing this meeting,” Young countered.
Young asked to move on and said he saw a personal conflict between Humphrey and Shaughnessy.
“We may have a member who is conflicted here and we need to figure this out,” Dyer said.
Young, however, said Humphrey didn't do anything wrong and that he was unaware of the transfer. Young added this was not a debate to have because it wasn’t city business.
Shaughnessy asked for the time he was promised to finish making his comments.
“I didn’t promise you anything,” Young said.
Speight posed the question if City Council should revisit the investment policy and make a change so council can approve when changes are made.