GREEN — Questions over a $20 million city investment account sparked a nearly 30-minute debate Tuesday among council members shortly after the start of council committee meetings.
Councilman Matt Shaughnessy triggered the outburst by asking at-large member Chris Humphrey whether Humphrey would recuse himself from voting on legislation that would create a budget stabilization fund.
Action on the bill was delayed Tuesday until the council's April 23 meeting.
Shaughnessy said he raised the issue after seeing an anonymous post on a Facebook page earlier Tuesday that suggested Humphrey is an employee of an international bank, which now holds the $20 million account. The money was transferred last fall from Morgan Stanley to a UBS Financial Services adviser in Toledo who handled the account at Morgan Stanley.
Shaughnessy also questioned why the council was never informed of the transfer.
Humphrey, who chairs the council's finance committee, said after he learned of the Facebook post Tuesday, he immediately called Green Finance Director Steven Schmidt, who said he made the transfer in October in order to get a better interest rate.
Since nothing was changed other than transferring the account, Schmidt said he was not required to notify the council. He also said all seven council members and other city officials regularly receive city financial reports that include the UBS account information.
Shaughnessy said it is the finance director's job to monitor and adjust the portfolio, not move it to another company without the council's approval.
Councilman Stephen Dyer also questioned Schmidt about taking the action without the council's approval. Councilman Justin Speight asked if the issue could be revisited to be more transparent and Schmidt agreed it could.
Humphrey, a veteran attorney and one of 6,500 independent business advisers for UBS, accused Shaughnessy of “showboating” and impugning Humhrey’s character and integrity. While he denied Tuesday that he was a UBS employee, on Thursday he said he "misspoke in the heat of the moment" and is employed by UBS Financial Services as an individual financial adviser.
He also said Thursday that he has requested a legal opinion from interim Law Director William Christ on whether he needs to recuse himself concerning the budget stabilization fund.
George W. Davis can be reached at email@example.com.