Several weeks ago, this blog pointed out that having the City Commission meddling in personnel matters was an inherently bad idea [also a stupid one!]. The recent circus that was conducted as the City Commission mangled the appeal process of former Parks Director Dennis Buchanan vividly illustrated the problems.
Of course, even we were surprised at how badly the City Commission managed to treat Mr. Buchanan. They continued his hearing to Saturday, May 8th. Then, on Friday, April 30th they changed their minds and decided they would meet on Sunday, May 2nd. Mr. Buchanan’s lawyer objected to the short notice and said she could not attend. Mr. Buchanan said he could not attend. The Administrative Law Judge who had met with the city during the first part of the hearing advised against the hastily rescheduled hearing. And then they held the conclusion of the hearing anyway – in the midst of the natural disaster that was the great Nashville flood of 2010. The Mt. Juliet News described it as a 1,000-year flood.
Commissioner Bradshaw didn’t attend the hearing. Mayor Elam called him a coward for not being there. The Administrative Law Judge didn’t attend the continuation of the hearing either. Was he a coward also? Which brings up an interesting point. What exactly was his role? Was he a consultant? an adviser? Was he supposed to chair the meeting? Was he going to make a recommendation to the commission? Or were they going to make a recommendation to him? Was he going to have a vote? And how much did his services cost the city?
The biggest question of course, is how much will the bumbling of the City Commission increase the settlement that the City will now inevitably be forced to pay to Mr. Buchanan? We suspect it will be a substantial amount.
Mayor Linda Elam doesn’t want to see a repeat of the circus. [Of course it would have been less of a circus if she hadn’t been so hell-bent on having one.] Last Monday night, the City Commission voted on an amendment she sponsored to the Personnel Manual that would remove the City Commission from the process. A good idea actually. But she couldn’t resist getting her digs in. In the preamble to her ordinance (which changed a single sentence in the Personnel Manual), she blamed the city manager for placing the nefarious idea of the City Commission hearing an appeal by a department head into the Personnel Manual. Further, she actually wrote into her ordinance:
“this addition to the personnel manual was not brought to the attention of the board of commissioners;”
Oh, that tricky city manager! He actually snuck one right by the commission by drafting an ordinance, sending them a copy the week before the meeting, and then played jedi mind tricks on them to secure their votes – TWICE, on two separate readings! What Mayor Elam has admitted of course, is that, like the despicable Democrats in Congress, she doesn’t bother to read ordinances before voting on them.
A circus indeed!