Another week, more antics with the Gardner City Council.
The negativity we used to blame on election year now seems more politics as usual here. It’s depressing.
The council’s regular meeting and a work session were cancelled Sept. 5, and social media was awash with statements by Lee Moore, Rich Melton and Steve Shute intoning about personal liability concerns, attorney letters and a harassment complaint against unnamed council members by unnamed employees.
Much ado about nothing that unusual.
The drama loomed large. Melton did a live cast reading a statement to the mayor; Moore wrote a treatise and Shute eventually issued a statement. In the end, all declined to attend the meeting sighting potential personal liability issues.
So much for conducting public business.
But what wasn’t said is just as interesting as all the justifications and finger pointing. There are policies in place to deal with litigation or harassment complaints, and this isn’t the first time the council has faced such an issue.
A review of e mail between council members for Sept. 5 indicate that rather than the cloak and dagger drama meted out on social media, there was already a plan in place to reorder the meeting’s agenda so the 3 members could adjourn in to executive session and discuss the harassment complaint.
But that wouldn’t have made for good social media drama. So instead the three jumped to social media and opened the flood gates to public discussion and allegations. They even discussed how to fire the city administrator – which led to a resident filing a Kansas Open Meetings complaint. This makes three filed against the trio.
The recent drama was interesting but disconcerting to watch; this is the first governing body we’ve seen that plays so loose and carelessly with personnel, harassment and possible litigation. The general rule of thumb with personnel issues, in both public and private sector workplaces, is “no comment.”
That was the city’s official comment when we asked for more details.
There’s plenty of blame to go around with all the juvenile behavior we see on the council.
There’s a time to talk, and a time to be quiet.
But most of all, there’s a time to be professional.