Wednesday, April 9, 2008

City Clerk Change

Today's DE has more information on the change in the change in the chain of command of the City Clerk's position. From the article, and other comments, it appears it was Mayor Cole's desire to move the clerk's office directly under the mayor and city council and the city council acquiesced. Councilwoman Corene McDaniel offered this reasoning in support of her vote:

..... she voted in favor of Cole's proposal because the city clerk should not know information shared by the Council as it searches for a new city manager, who would have been the clerk's boss. McDaniel said Vaught has attended the meetings to review applicants for retiring City Manager Jeff Doherty's successor.

"I would hate to think that all my employees know about me before I do," McDaniel said.

There's also an article in this week's Carbondale Times (not online, pick up a copy around town) about the rejiggering with the interesting addendum that though the original proposal would have given the council approval in hiring a city clerk, the council would have had no say in firing. Councilman Lance Jack opposed the measure as written and it was rewritten to require council approval on both hiring and firing. Jack, Cole and councilmen Wissmann and McDaniel all then voted for the change.

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If this was truly the logic, why not just change the rules so that the Clerk has to step out in personnel matters involving the City Manager? The bottom line here is that the system was working -- both candidates ostensibly praised Janet Vaught at multiple times throughout the campaign -- but now it suddenly *needs* changing for this reason? Was there some point in the last 40+ years when this situation caused a problem? Call me skeptical, but I'm not buying.

Bottom line: more centralization of power in the Mayor's office. At least he didn't get away with it on the liquor commission. We're supposed to have professionally run government, not a politically-run one. So why is the council so willing to tear at the foundations?

By the way, this confirms that Corene McDaniel is probably the worst council member, as if her rant about it requiring to much work each weak hadn't already made that point crystal clear.
Why have a clerk then, if that person would need to step out of personnel matters involving the City Manager?
Isn't that the duty of the clerk, to keep record of city business.
Gadfly, you love to moan about how Carbondale is, or should be run, as a City Manager form of governement -- then why wouldn't you want the best search process for Dorhoty's successor?

And who made Janet Vaught god, anyway? If she doesn't like her job, maybe she should run for council. Then maybe she'll get a reality check on exactly how much she is "loved."

P.S. What a sad and bizarre world you live in if you think McDaniel is the worst council member.
I'm not "moaning" about the council-manager form of government. Its the way it works in the majority of municipal governments around the country. The city manager is the professional and he runs the day-to-day business. These governments all have clerks who have the same responsibilities as Vaught.

I noticed you avoided the real issue here -- the system has worked for forty years without any problem. Why, all of a sudden, is a change needed? (Hint: the mayor is upset at some people in city hall that didn't vote for him.)

As far as Vaught is concerned, I know very little about the woman. I do know that both candidates *said* they thought she was "fantastic. Don't believe me? Go call Dee Gordon and ask for the video tape from the Arbor District debate. Either the mayor was lying then, avoided outling his problem with the form of government (which was what the question was about), or he has a political bone to pick. I'm not sure any of those explanations strike me as good leadership on his part.

Who, pray tell, do you think is worse than McDaniel? I grant you that Haynes can give her a run for her money, but at least he doesn't whine about how much work being on the council requires; he's just incapable of making up his mind.
Oh my God, Gadfly, we almost agreed. Totally Haynes and for the reason you gave...

But look at the time line of the city clerk history (in the DE article) it was one way for 40 years, but then the position changed from city manager to mayor to city manager now back to mayor.

And how do you know the system was working? Why has it had such a back-and-forth history? Dillard switched the system twice.

And I don't think anyone was "lying" about Vaught's work contributions. If she's doing a great job, then her job should be secure. She's not fired; she has to report to the council.

In the next few months there will be no City Manager. And someone needs to be accountable for the city clerk position while a replacement for Doherty is found and installed.

And if you want to point "political fingers" then point it at Vaught. She was the one who decieded to support Simon and oppose Cole the incumbent mayor in the last election. She took a risk when she showed her cards, and lost. Stupid and petty move.
'Sputid' and 'petty' for a person to support a candidate in a race for mayor? Especially when the current mayor wasn't even her boss. How dare she take advantage of her democratic rights.

I think this is much ado about little. Because, as has been mentioned, Vaught is clearly quite capable at her job. And if Cole should choose to get the Council to go along with firing her, he's going to have a very large wrongful termination suit filed against him and the city.
Nothing denotes a true public servant better that one's willingness to sue for taxpayer's money.

At this point, Vaught could totally screw the pooch -- because now she'll sue over any reason if she get's canned. Even if it is ligitimate.

And because of that, she's not going anywhere.

The only person that is upset over this is Vaught. Last I checked, she's being paid to be there. If she doesn't like working there, she can do what all of us slubs in the private sector -- who aren't paid with the public's money -- have to do: get a new job.
Nothing denotes a true public servant better that one's willingness to sue for taxpayer's money.

You mean like when Cole sued the state when Blagojevich fired him from the patronage job he was given by convicted felon, George Ryan?
Janet didn't "show any cards" in the mayoral race. To the best of my knowledge, she didn't go to any events for either candidate (and I was at most for both), didn't donate any money, and so forth. All she did is vote and lord only knows who she voted for. If someone in City Hall -- a professionalized City Hall -- can be fired for voting for someone (and that hasn't happened yet), then I think it underscores the reason not to let the politicians in charge of hiring them in the first place. Indeed, its the *entire* point of a non-partisan management system.

On a side note...let's say she did vote for Simon. How on earth is that "petty." I may disagree with the people who voted for Cole, but I don't think it makes the "petty" or "stupid." (I'd probably go with misguided.)

But let us also pursue the idea a tad farther. Cole is on record as saying she's doing a good job, so she shouldn't have some work-related ax to grind against him. If she did vote for Simon, don't you think that speaks volumes? There is an old saying, no one knows a man better than his servant.

At least I can get on board with your frustration with Haynes. He's completely random half of the time. Ditto Wissman. But, at least they seem to not care that its a lot of work.
Word is that Cole told clerk Vaught right after the 2007 mayors election that he intended to fire her, then gave her the option to resign instead. She didn't buckle to his demands and hired her attorney. Good for her! People in this town are sick and tired of Cole and his power plays and this treatment of the clerk - that everyone agrees is an excellent employee - may be his downfall. As for McDaniel, she is nothing more than a Cole puppet and does whatever he says. How can she say that the clerk should not be in these private meetings when the clerk is required to keep the record? That is just stupid! If I'm counting right, McDaniel is up for election next time and she needs to go!
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