A split Atlantic City City Council approved charges against the head of the city’s Municipal Utilities Authority board at a special meeting Friday night.
John Devlin will now be the subject of a hearing on the allegations, which include that he overstepped his authority and tried to interfere with day-to-day operations of the ACMUA.
Devlin claims it’s a politically motivated attack by Mayor Marty Small.
The allegations against Devlin include that he “aggressively pushed to rescind the contract for Fairview Insurance Company” at the Dec. 28 meeting, saying they were not properly informed, according to a letter from one-time ACMUA acting Executive Director Claude Smith.
This could have resulted in the authority not having an insurance policy, Smith wrote.
But Devlin wasn’t the only one questioning the contract, ACMUA board member Glenn Banfield said.
“When John raised the questions, I backed him,” he told BreakingAC after Friday’s meeting. “A majority of the board was confused.”
Banfield claimed that the contract was not complete and that there were certain sections that said the cost was not available.
“At our December meeting, I said there was no way I would have actually voted on a contract with certain things left out,” he said.
Banfield said he tried to talk at Friday’s Zoom meeting, but that the public portion ended with his requests to speak ignored.
“I found that strange,” he said.
Many people also indicated they were not able to get onto the Zoom meeting, including several who were in support of Devlin.
Neither City Council President George Tibbitt nor solicitor Robert Tarver responded to requests for comment about those issues.
The allegations first came in a letter ACMUA Executive Director Michael Armstrong sent to Division of Local Government Services Director Jacquelyn Suarez. In it, he called Devlin’s behavior “obstructing, unprofessional, overbearing and harassing in nature.”
Former Executive Director Bruce Ward backed those claims in his own letter to Suarez.
Councilman Sporty Randolph abstained from the vote.
Councilwoman LaToya Duston and Councilman Jesse Kurtz voted against the charges, along with newly elected Councilman Bruce Weekes, who ran on Small’s ticket. He said he was disappointed to see the focus on this issue.
“I don’t know what their agenda is,” Banfield said.
Devlin, who also serves on the city’s Board of Education, has been vocal about investigating the employment and ultimate firing of convicted child pornographer Ka’yan Frazier, who is the cousin of Small’s wife, Dr. La’Quetta Small.
Devlin also questioned the handling of the superintendent search, which ultimately put Dr. Small in charge of the schools.
Ward was on the search committee that ultimately chose her.