Where do we start? There are so many problems with Resolution 1963 it’s hard to find a beginning.
The resolution, introduced and approved without an opportunity for public review – it wasn’t on the city’s March 6 published agenda – leaves a lot to be desired.
Apparently drafted – by who is unknown – to deal with an appeal process for city employees, it “appeared” after the council emerged from a closed door session under attorney client privilege to discuss non-elected personnel.
Public business should be done in public; not in secret. The resolution, distributed by Steve Shute, council president, was approved 4-1, with Kristina Harrison, councilmember, the “nay” vote.
The Gardner News has made a formal complaint that the resolution appears to have been prepared in closed session. Executive session to discuss personnel is a valid exemption, but only for specific personnel. It is not to be used to develop general policy or procedures.
The resolution does not appear to be retroactive to prior employee evaluations; does not establish how the council – who do not have oversight of day to day operations – are to judge a complaint; and does not mention how to handle bonuses that may be tied to an evaluation.
There is also no mention of how the procedure will affect the city administrator, who is the acting head of personnel, and whose contract was unanimously approved by the council last year. It effectively undermines the city’s designated authority – both administrator and human resources director – and is an open door for lawsuits.
Because the resolution was apparently prepared outside of proper city channels – the human resource director and city attorney appeared unaware – it’s also unclear how the council’s micro-managing of employee issues will covered by city insurance if litigation arises. What is the limit of individual council members insurance, as well as the cap on the city’s general policy? And how much are taxpayers willing to pay for this council’s kneejerk tomfoolery?
This council is baffling. Although they talk the talk of transparency and open government, they don’t walk the walk. There is no good reason this resolution was prepared in secret.
There is no good reason it didn’t appear for public review on the published agenda.
There is no good reason it couldn’t have been postponed until the next council meeting – assuming it was necessary at all. Emotional, “gotcha” politics, and policy to appease individual egos – without proper review and procedure – are problematic.
In the first place, personnel issues should be kept confidential. Period. Council members publishing information online, e-mailing it, telling friends and general public, or speaking it in open session – when it is an individual employee – sets the rumor mill churning and opens the city to litigation.
Here’s our advice: Try. Just try. To be professional.
Get your ego in check. Quit picking favorites and creating division. Bite your tongue. Council members are elected to work for the taxpayers. Not each other. Not a social media page. Not an individual department or employee(s).
True professionals know that.
You expect residents, developers and employees to follow rules, regulations and proper procedure.
Do the same.
If there needs to be an appeal process for employees, do it the right way; not behind closed doors.