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November 20, 2012

The night started with the Mayor getting snippy about refusing to change the order of the agenda items. The City Attorney (actually the charter) backed up the Mayor. When the vote for the agenda came, I voted for it so that we could get on with the show. In hindsight, I should have not voted for it and just left it hanging. It was interesting to see that after 20 years in politics the mayor finally found his spine and used it to thwart the will of the majority on Council. Kudos to the Mayor.

The vote to remove the City Manager last night was not even close to my expectations. Three voted to have him gone (me [Clements], Davis and Steele). Four voted to keep him. The big surprise was Johnson. I heard him tell a reporter from a local newspaper that it was because the contract clearly states that for the City Manager to be removed for “cause” (something that would relieve the City from having to pay the contractual obligations of 4 1/2 months separation pay) was not adhered to. I guess it turned out that Councilman Johnson was more worried about the City Manager leaving and not costing the City anything, than that he just be gone. Interesting. I certainly didn’t see that coming.

There were other disappointments as well.

Councilman Johnson’s diligence had generated a report from the city that showed the raises that had taken place over the previous 18 months. There was over $500,000 of raises for city employees!

Which leads me to my next huge disappointment, our Accounting and budgeting reports. How is it that the bulk of this $500,000 in raises was never brought before Council in any way that was recognizable? Why was there such a fuss made over the lack of raises by the CM during the budget process if he’d already taken it upon himself to dole out so many. What had the criteria been for those raises? We may never know. How’s that for transparency?

One of the other interesting things that transpired during the course of the discussion was that the CM had made a claim that Assistant Chief Parker had been the driving force behind the Red Light Camera initiative. After that meeting, I got an email from Assistant Chief Parker with some Red Light Camera information. He cc’d the rest of Council, the City Attorney, the Chief of Police and a couple of other people. I did a Reply All and asked Assistant Chief Parker to explain why he was wanting the city to have so many more Red Light Cameras. It was a perfect opportunity to say that he didn’t. He chose not to answer the email in any manner.

Last night, Councilman Steele indicated that he had gone to talk to Assistant Chief Parker. Steele asked Parker if Parker would be willing to confirm that the City Manager had been behind the Red Light Camera’s and in the process, to show that the City Manager had lied to the Council about it. Parker, being put on the spot, again failed to answer the question. I’ve had many conversations with Parker and I would have said that he would have been the kind of person to just tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. I’m disappointed that my confidence was so misplaced.

I was impressed with how many people showed up to hear the discussion last night. I was disappointed with their unprofessional behavior during the course of the discussion.

So, you may well ask, am I sorry that I did it? No. I’m not. Here’s why. It’s less painful to fight and lose than not to fight at all.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Maxwell Smart permalink
    November 20, 2012 9:44 pm

    I say kudos to the Mayor and the four councilmen who voted for reason and a very professional job done by the City Manager (a lot of us like and appreciate the job Dr. Neils has done). It seems to me the unprofessional behavior was not coming from the audience!

    Just one opinion.

    • November 21, 2012 3:22 am

      Thank you for your comments. Did you read the blog post? Four councilmen were willing to get rid of the City Manager for his unprofessional conduct. One just chose not to vote for the measure on the table because it would have paid the City Manager separation costs. Had the City Manager been doing a “very professional” job, why would there be a majority of the City Council who think otherwise?

      Where do you think the unprofessional behavior was coming from? Despite the fact that I disagree with the results of the vote, the meeting was quite professionally handled. Documentation was provided, facts given, statements made, opinions espoused and all out in the open for all to see, as a matter of public record. There was a vote and the meeting moved on. I didn’t hear council sighing loudly, interrupting and talking over each other. Were you at the meeting? I would be interested in knowing what you would describe as unprofessional behavior.

      “Just one opinion.” From an anonymous post on a blog. Why not sign your name and be on the record for Dr. Neils? Would that require too much support for him?

      I understand that there is a lot of support for Dr. Neils and the job he has done. In the end though, he works for Council, not the residents. His job is to keep the Council happy. He’s failed to do so. 4 of 7 think he should be gone.

      Would you dare to state what it is that you like about the job that the City Manager is doing? I would be very interested to know.

      Thank you for reading the blog and for commenting.

  2. Mark permalink
    November 21, 2012 9:50 am

    Keep up the good work, Mr. Clements. Watauga needs your vigilance to keep it from going the way of the rest of the nation.

    • November 21, 2012 11:28 am

      Thank you for the comment. I’m sad to say that we’re well on the way to being like Washington.

      Thank you very much for your comment and thank you for reading.

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