Since my last column seemingly shook things up at city hall and I certainly got a great deal of response, I'm going to continue by pouring the worms out of the can. I'm not certain if my last column caused all the hullabaloo or merely released the steam on an already boiling situation.
My only regret, at this point, is that those of you who responded to my last column didn't write letters to the editor or call your councilman and let them know you don't approve of how they are handling things. Their job after all is to represent you as citizens of this community.
At this point I would like to say that I am going to refer to the council as a whole, however, keep in mind that some of the councilmen are just newly elected and didn't have anything to do with past improprieties. They have an excellent opportunity to set things right as Mick Mallory recently attempted at a council meeting.
For you old hands . . . I and many others have a bone to pick with you, as you are well aware. So I am going to lay it on the line with some questions.
First, where on earth did the council come up with our current city administrator? From day one it seems he's been not only been less than truthful, but simply doesn't have any interest in being a member of this community. I have had my ear to the "wall" and I have yet to hear one nice thing or gesture he has done.
Did the council members even bother to check his references or talk to any former citizens of Bethany, Mo. where he came from? Why not? As an employer that should have been first on your list. If you had, you would have found out how terrible he was. Strickland told the council everything they wanted to hear to get the job, as any person looking for a job will do. It is the employer's responsibility (in this case to Cherokee's citizens) to check out what he tells us. Most cities hire professional companies to seek out qualified administrators.
Why is the council taking his word for everything he tells them? It is obvious to me and others that you can't believe all he says. Why aren't council members getting both sides of the story? He has created a workplace atmosphere of hostility and distrust because he wants his own way or is on a major ego trip. Honestly, if he had not wanted anyone in his office he could have said so or simply locked the door when he wasn't in it rather than install a spy camera, or so I've heard (probably at city expense).
Let's talk about Strickland's education and experience and his claims of what he is able to do for this city to justify his excessive pay and requests for pay increases. He has only been an employee of the city for three years and apparently only graduated from college less than five years ago. He claimed he could save the city money because he was knowledgeable of the law, as a result the council cut the city attorney to a part-time as needed basis. Honestly, does his degree say he is an attorney? As far as I can tell he knows squat about the law since he and the council can't seem to follow city code when it comes to firing an employee.
He also claims to be able to design water and sewer systems as he did for Spring Lake Park. Honestly, does his degree say he is a construction engineer or public works engineer? Correct me if I am wrong but wouldn't a local construction company have given the city a free bid on that project and have done it correctly? My non-city employee sewer expert source tells me that project was a mess. (I wanted to clarify that so another employee wouldn't lose their job too).
Again, I wonder why we even need a city administrator. I think the only reason the council wants one is so they don't have to take phone calls from the citizens of Cherokee, they don't want to be on committees that do annual employee evaluations, they don't want to enlist the expertise of their department heads who have more experience and knowledge than they do. They don't want to save the city money by taking on some of an administrators duties.
Why not? Don't they have the best interest of Cherokee in their heart? If not why are they on the council? If we must have a city administrator then get one who knows what they are doing and has more experience and rapport with people and employees and for crying out loud, make sure the contract is reasonable and not as convoluted as the current one.
If the council is going to let Strickland continue his contract they should by all means keep tight reins on him and simply do not renew his contract. Start fresh and start right.
Call your councilmen today and let him know he should set things right. We have the power to bait the hook and reel 'em in to keep them from doing further damage to our community.