Sunday, November 22, 2009

November 22, 2009 City Council Special Meeting on November 24 at 11:30 AM (For the Convenience of all Citizens? Not!)

The City Council is having a special meeting on November 24, 2009, at 11:30 AM at the City Center to:

1) Name a new city administrator; and
2) Consider a bond anticipation note in the amount of $950,000 for the purchase of the Roy Widener property on N. Liberty Hill Road.

A very important decision--selecting a new city administrator--is on the agenda. Setting this meeting for 11:30 AM shows that the Mayor and many councilmembers are happy to exclude the working and taxpaying public from being able to participate or observe the handling of public business.

[Of course, the Mayor and most councilmembers have already shown that they are not interested in having any meetings at a time that is convenient for the public.  See a prior post on council meeting times here.]

One reason for the inconvenient 11:30 AM meeting time could be questions that have arisen surrounding how the last two finalists (Angie Carrier and Jody Baltz) for the city administrator position were selected.

The newpaper hinted at these questions in the last two paragraphs of a November 19 article when Bob Moore reported:  "Interim Morristown City Administrator Lynn Wampler and Pat Hardy, a Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) consultant, narrowed the (city administrator) field from more than 80 applicants to the final four. Baltz and Carrier, acquaintances of Wampler and Hardy, were added as last-minute entries into the city administrator selection process.

The normal process of application followed by interview of potential finalists was apparently circumvented with the addition of Baltz and Carrier as finalists despite not being interviewed by phone as were other finalists.

Carrier's situation is particularly troubling. It must be very important to be "an acquaintance" of certain people when you can waltz into the final four with submission of a last-minute resume, no phone interview, and an admission that you are not directly involved in formulating budgets and that you have no experience in industrial recruitment because your city (White House, TN) is primarily a bedroom community for people who work in Nashville. [Bob Moore's November 20 article in the Tribune.]

Strangely, I didn't see any quote in Bob Moore's article from Mayor Barile, other councilmembers, Wampler, or Hardy about the passes given to Baltz and Carrier. Surely, Bob asked for comment about failure to follow procedures in connection with Carrier and Baltz.  Carrier, as I understand, is a very personable individual. Baltz has the financial expertise required for the job, but he, unfortunately, appears to have received an automatic pass to the final four just on the basis of being an "acquaintance" of Wampler and Hardy. 

Contrast the automatic selection of Carrier and Baltz as finalists with the Mayor's comments a few weeks ago rejecting any further consideration of city department head Jay Moore's application and refusing to give Moore an interview because he did not meet the advertised budgeting and financial "requirements" for the job.  

If Mr. Moore had just been an "acquaintance" of Wampler and Hardy, perhaps he, too, could have waltzed into the final four without meeting the financial requirements and without having an interview.

On the other hand, one has to wonder about the Mayor's definition of financial requirements. She seemed to think that the departed Jim Crumley was the financial bomb and that the city would be lost without his presence.

Now that Crumley's behind-the-scenes maneuvers are coming out, what does she think of Crumley's illegal transfer of $2.5 Million from the sewer fund to the general fund? 

What does she think of the contract Crumley signed to lease the Roy Widener property on N. Liberty Hill Road--a contract that Mr. Wampler looked at and saw for what it was--a bad lease for the city. Now the City is having to issue $950,000 in bonds--more debt--to purchase the property and get out of additional lease payments with the minimum of financial damage.  Did she see and approve that contract?

What do she and councilmembers think of Crumley and Janish's 09-10 budget--a budget that the Mayor voted for about 4 or 5 months ago and that is now falling apart around her and around the city employees.  Department heads were required to make cuts. Did the Mayor and council take a 4% cut? Probably not, but it is possible and even likely that these officials have protection from any increase or decrease in their pay during their time in office.

What do she and councilmembers think of the huge city debt? What do she and councilmembers think of the astronomical sewer increases--past and future? 

Have she and councilmembers ever really looked at and examined the 2008 audit and current financial  information to try and figure out what has gone on and what is going on? Have she and councilmembers looked at how much more money the city has taken in over the past five years?  Have she and councilmembers ever asked where the money went?

Are she and other councilmembers ready to ask financial questions now without fear of, gasp, micromanaging?  Or is the Mayor's real concern still light pollution and those pretty brick-paving machines?

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