Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, 2009 Mayor Barile and Councilman Frank McGuffin "Fast-Track" Contract with New City Administrator

The City Council Agenda is here. It lists the contract with the new city administrator as one of the items [IX (1)] for consideration at the council's 4:00 PM meeting at the City Center on Tuesday, December 1.

IX (1). Approval of an employment contract with Anthony Cox to serve as city administrator.

Mr. Cox was selected on November 24, 2009, at a special called meeting of the council at 11:30 AM. Mayor Barile was set to negotiate the contract with Cox. When a councilmember suggested that a councilperson be put on the negotiating team, Barile appointed Frank McGuffin to help her. 

Let's see. Public "meet-and-greet" of administrator candidates and council interviews on Thursday (11/19) and Friday (11/20).  Selection made on Tuesday (11/24), Thanksgiving on Thursday (11/26), and the employment contract is already on the council's agenda on the city website by Friday (11/27). 

Barile and McGuffin put this contract on the fast-track. Of course, Pat Hardy of MTAS, who thinks that Jim Crumley is an excellent administrator, has already given the council some money guidelines and other contract suggestions.

Hopefully, Barile and Frank McGuffin and City Attorney Dick Jessee (who is Frank's uncle) have crafted a contract that adequately protects the city from a repeat of the situation which arose with Crumley.

Hopefully, this contract will provide that in the event that it is discovered--shortly AFTER termination for cause or shortly AFTER voluntary resignation or retirement--that the city administrator violated state law, the city charter, or local ordinances in the conduct of his office, then he/she must pay back to the city all monies and the monetary value of all benefits paid to or for him/her as part of a contractual or negotiated severance package.

The council thought Crumley was absolutely wonderful when he was selected about eight years ago, and Crumley may have performed satisfactorily for a time.  Some of the councilmembers who selected Crumley are still on the council today. If a provision as noted above had been included in Crumley's contract or in the negotiated severance package, it might have allowed the city to get back some or all of the $145,000+ severance package that Crumley was given. Click here.

Cox is the council's pack for city administrator. He appears to have the financial qualifications for the position, and he very well may be the excellent administrator that the city really needs at this point. 

After the Crumley fiasco, however, the employment contract with the city administrator (no matter who it is) should provide protection to the city as well as to the administrator in the event that something goes wrong down the road--and in the event that illegal conduct in office is discovered shortly after termination/ resignation.

With Crumley, it came out shortly AFTER he left office that he apparently violated the law in the conduct of his office. The severance money, however, had apparently already been paid by then, and neither the original employment contract nor the negotiated severance contract provided a way to get such payments back or terminate benefits in the event that illegal actions were discovered shortly AFTER any termination or resignation/retirement.

The Mayor and McGuffin---and the entire council---are charged with looking out for the city in a business-like manner in drawing city contracts. Once burned, twice shy. This is a contract that should be carefully prepared, read by all councilmembers, and thoughtfully questioned and considered before a vote is cast.

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