Politicizing Personnel decisions

It was painful to read the stories of the marathon “hearing” conducted by the Mt. Juliet City Commission last Monday night. And they’re not done yet. After meeting until midnight, they will resume next Saturday, May 8th, at 10am.

The embarrassing airing of dirty laundry, questions, accusations, and innuendo is a perfect illustration of what a terrible idea it is for the City Commission to get involved in hiring & firing decisions. By state law, the City Commission cannot take any action, or conduct any debate behind closed doors. If they become involved in personnel decisions, they are obligated to make it a public spectacle. The result is bad for everyone. It’s bad for the citizens; it’s bad for the affected employee; it’s bad for the city manager; and it’s bad for the City Commission. All this badness is rooted in two serious errors – the desire by the mayor to acquire more power over the operations of the city, and the cavalier way in which the entire commission ignores the city charter.

Monday night’s spectacle illustrates the wisdom of the City Charter, which divides the policy-making functions (which belong to the City Commission) from the operational function (which is directed by the City Manager). The City Manager, according to the charter, has absolute control over the hiring and firing of city employees. The only two employees hired by the City Commission are the City Manager and the City Judge.

The Mt. Juliet City Commission made a huge mistake when they adopted personnel ordinances which provide for an appeal from the City Manager to the City Commission. They should have known better. It violates the charter. And it’s just plain stupid. There are over 100 employees working for the city. There are, most likely, terminations every month of the year. Does the city commission want to hear appeals every month? Even if they wanted to, it would be both a bad idea, and a charter violation.

They should fix their mistake and repeal the 2009 personnel ordinance.

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11 Comments

Filed under City Charter, Mt. Juliet City Commission, Open Meetings Law

11 responses to “Politicizing Personnel decisions

  1. Butch Huber

    While it is a violation of the City Charter, and it is a bad idea for the commission to get involved in hiring and firing decisions in the city, there is at least some cause for the commission to be aware and at least take interest. A couple years back an interim city manager improperly terminated a city employee and ended up costing the city quite a bit of money. Now, I have no doubt that a certain carrion eater on the commission was deeply involved in all of that matter, which is an argument for the commissioners to stay out of things, but the decision was made by the interim city manager. The commission is responsible for the budget, and when money is taken out of the budget by an errant city manager, it affects the commission, therefore the commission should have at least a basis of concern regarding what is happening. Perhaps their concern should be regarding the city manager’s qualifications for the job he is holding. Will he get us tied up in yet another lawsuit against the city? How much will this one cost us? Is he operating in the best interests of the city? Is there justification for his actions? Is this all about the rift that now exists between the Vulture and the city manager? Are we seeing more political wrangling and power plays here?

    It appears that the city manager was determined to get rid of him by the way the article in the Chronicle read. What did Dennis do that would make the city manager want to get rid of him? Did the city manager have any dialog with any of the commissioners about this matter before he fired Dennis? Was there anything going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about? Was someone after Dennis that we haven’t heard about yet? The controversy surrounding everything that goes on in this city raises the question of whether there was anything nefarious about this or was the city manager just doing what he truly felt was best?

    It will be interesting to see the outcome of all of this, but the end of it all should be that Dennis gets his job back and they continue to support him while he recovers from his surgery. The fact that they had him go through a physical fitness test in order to keep his job, a test that landed him back in the hospital, is all the reason he needs to file a suit. If they don’t want to do the right thing for the right reason, at least they should do the right thing in order to hopefully keep us from losing another fortune to a lawsuit. I don’t know about the rest of you but I am tired of paying lawsuits for the blundering of this city leadership, and those blunders all lead in one way or another straight back to Linda Elam!

  2. Doc Cider

    The article in the Chronicle displayed more examples of ‘she who feasts on road kill’ showing her true colors. Driving to people’s houses to check if the road was passable? Calling Jim Bradshaw a ‘coward’? The level of civility might even drop to the level of the shenanigans of the late nineties, where people who looked like vagrants stood against the wall holding signs and citizens were thrown out of city hall.

    Bradshaw didn’t help himself with his angry (but justified) response. And he certainly didn’t help himself by saying he was ‘out taking pictures’. He even had a legitimate out, as he was landlocked on two sides with Belinda Parkway and Rutland Road closed. He may have easily gotten out via the Beckwith Interchange but could have credibly pleaded ignorance. Unless of course the ‘vulturemobile’ had driven out to his house too.

    We can count on another lawsuit. At least the mayor’s attempt to look like a ‘compassionate conservative’ ran out of hot air.

  3. Aunt Bea

    Elam is mad because Bradshaw probably won’t be named in the lawsuit.

    I wish we could get this handsome couple to play a game of chess for charity.

    My money would be on Bradshaw.

  4. Pingback: The City Manager Tricked Me! « Radio Free Mt. Juliet

  5. Pop Korn

    Speaking of politicizing personnel decisions, look who got picked to replace Dennis at Parks and Recreation. They could film the comedy show of the same name here.

  6. Paul Deyo

    I visited Linda Elam’s website and was amused to see that in her bio she still claims credit for the economic expansion that has taken place in Mt. Juliet. I can tell you firsthand what she had to do with bringing Providence Marketplace here- she made the initial motion to approve it as a member of the Planning Commission (after asking me to withdraw my motion so she could make it- she was running for mayor). She also took credit for road projects initiated and/or finalized during the Mack administration.

    Whether she is a Republican or not, and I doubt she really is, the bigger issue is that she cannot be trusted and the more power she has the more dangerous she will become. Everyone here knows the stories about her purging City Hall of people who presented a threat to her, her alleged anonymous complaint against Ed Hagerty for his voting to censure her, the lawsuits the city has had to pay. In my presence she has badmouthed virtually every city commissioner, several city employees, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, and her political opponents. After I criticized one of her political opponents in this forum, she suggested I escalate the comments to a level I found offensive and would not do. I had no illusions about her representations of me when I was not around.

    In my role as Planning Commission Chairmann, she largely left me alone until Paddocks entered the picture. If anyone wonders why the supposed rival to Providence Marketplace has ended up as a typical WalMart strip mall, take a look at the campaign contributions to Elam’s mayoral reelection campaign.

    There are two alternatives to Ms. Elam in the primary. I invite them or their advocates to post here, get their name out, and campaign more actively.

  7. SI40

    You mean the Planning Commission that is full of Elam loyalists. Look at most of the opponents since she’s been Mayor, not one hasn’t been a “friend”.

  8. Pop Korn

    ‘Friends of Elam’ spells ‘foe’.

  9. Pig Latin

    And “Elam” spelled backwards is…

  10. Old Citizen

    Hi all,
    I’m just an “old citizen” and don’t know that much about computers and really not sure if this Radio Free Mt Juliet avenue is the right place to make comments about the Wilson County Mayors Race, but I just thought it would be since we all live in the county here. I recently wrote a small article on this page for want of any better place to put it, but it wasn’t published. I apologize if it was off topic for the page but I just couldn’t find the right place in here to put it and no place to start a new topic. The jist of my article was that we shouldn’t be putting a realtor in charge (as Mayor) of all this country land. Too much of a conflict of interests there. Warren may be the most honest fellow around but the perception of very possible biased voting for speculators in the land is what I’m talking about.

  11. Old Citizen

    I do agree that anybody that gets fired should have a legal recourse for a hearing of some kind. This “fire at will” law that Tennessee has is an outrage. Nobody’s career should be at the whim of any one person no matter what their job is. There are way too many things that should be considered before firing anyone. An angry boss has way too much power in this state. Can we not as a sovereign city adopt a more humane policy when it comes to taking someones livelihood away from them? All political games aside, we need to have more compassion as human beings and use discretion when it comes to ruining a life or lives.
    If there is an unruly employee, there should be a formal policy that calls for reprimanding that employee and giving him or her a chance at repenting of any bad or perception of bad behavior.

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