In the Oct. 5 Guest Comment in the Roundup, Mr. Gordon Gartner wrongly attacked me and Councilperson Connell. I would assume the he was acting on false information that he believed to be true. Mr. Gartner should not believe every rumor he hears and should use more discretion in choosing his sources ... a disgruntled employee would not be my choice for a reliable source.
We did not eliminate Human Resources nor did we fire anyone, we simply moved the Human Resources function under Finance for better efficiency. This action was taken at an agendized meeting on Sept. 20, 2007. This was not about an employee, it was about reorganization. It did eliminate the position currently held by Mr. Bob Smith and, realizing that, the resolution included a transition period of five months during which Mr. Smith would help with the transition, while seeking other employment.
Mr. Gartner served under past Councils that at times let staff set policy without Council direction As such, it appears he finds a Council that takes the proper leadership role offensive. When this Council took office, the staff, to a large degree, was setting policy. Proper method of setting policy is: 1) Citizens suggest policy, 2) Council reviews suggestions and establishes policy (with staff input) and 3) Staff implements the policy. This Council has done that and to be attacked for that is to demonstrate an opposition to citizen-run government.
This Council campaigned on the promise
of strong leadership and was given a mandate to bring a more efficient business approach to Town government; we are delivering on that promise. To imply that this Council is amateur when it comes to understanding government, I would have to take strong exception to that. They have demonstrated clearly they understand the role of government very well... that being, to serve the citizens and they have done that job well. In addition, the backgrounds of these individuals, in relationship to government service, has a depth as well as a breadth of experience.
I disagree that the Town staff cowers in fear ... I am on site there daily and see no sign of that. In fact, I see the opposite. What I see is a Town blessed with great staff and signs of employees being empowered to be their best. This past weekend, at the 125th celebration, the staff of the Police, Streets and Parks and Recreation departments did a great job in a very positive way. They did it without hesitation, showing individual empowerment and not fear of action.
Regarding his charge that department heads will be stifled and will refrain from engaging the Council in controversial discussion... this Council has been very open to ideas and to staff input and, in fact, has been pushing very hard for more and better information on which to make decisions but they have also made it clear that when the Council finally gives direction, they expect it to be followed.
Again, to his implication that we no longer have a Human Resources director... Debra Galbraith has a very strong background in human resources and I believe that time will prove the reorganization is an improvement.
His statement that I, as Mayor, should have reigned in Su Connell because she acted out of emotion, clearly indicates he does not know Su and does not truly understand leadership.
Leadership is recognizing a problem and acting and not taking the easy road, it is also not letting a problem exist because it is the way it has always been done. Su Connell has shown herself to be a reasoned and a hard working Councilperson and while we don't always agree, I have learned to highly respect her ... she does not act on emotion and certainly does not need me to tell her how to do her job.
As to his charge of secrecy, this Council has excelled in its openness. The Councilpersons have held open coffees, have been aggressive about being available to the public, Council meetings are open to all and this Council has had only one executive session and that was on a personnel matter, dealing with the dismissal of a Town employee.
To his implication that the news media are not doing an adequate job of keeping the public informed and implying that illegal acts are being performed... that goes beyond the pale.
Regarding staff being fearful of coming forward... I encourage, as always, that any staff member that sees any act that they determine is outside of proper procedures to bring it forward and I can assure them it can be handled by the current Council without fear of retribution, as has been, (I am told), the fear in the past.