The Old Curmudgeon: The results are in, but who knows the score?

October 2009 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Well, here it is, the final word on what many of us here in Mt. Angel have been concerned with for months – what happened to our city manager?

In the weekly newspaper, right on the front page, it said: “Ex-employee dispute going on.” A few words later it does state “city administrator” — no one of importance — just the man hired to run our city affairs, now called “ex-employee.”

Just a man who had our town at heart, who wanted to settle down here for the long haul. Just a man who wanted to see the town survive and prosper. I guess there’s nothing important about that. It’s just a small town.

The man was fired, but we have not been told why. So we ponder. Why was a man who was hired because he had the right credentials – one who saw two important projects come to fruition – fired after just a few months on the job?

Was it job related or for personal reasons? The people I talked to thought he was doing an excellent job. If so, then perhaps it was personal? Our council has not said.

Was the reason too embarrassing to council members to be made public? Was there a king pin who convinced the rest of the council that nothing was done right?

The saga, the city press release says, is at an end. But this ol’ curmudgeon is betting it has no end yet. The sad thing is, this is not just about former city administrator Jim Hunt or Gene Miles or Roberta Huddleston or a number of other city employees. It is about nine changes of city administration in 10 years. Nine in 10 years.

In these times, managing even a small town has become complicated, so complicated with government regulations, grants, Homeland Security, that no one can have a solution to all problems with just a few (trial) months on the job. Or perhaps the job is so simple the city council can do without an administrator – that may be the solution. Though untrained, they know what they want.

So in selecting a new city manager, perhaps the council should try to find someone who doesn’t give a damn about the town, someone who has no intention of investing with plans of a long-term relationship. Choose someone who has nothing or little to lose. Then we won’t have to go through these long periods of wondering who’s in charge.

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On another topic,  Diane (Schnider) Sparks has proved we can still get a great pizza in our town at her Village Pizza Ristorante. Mama mia! Just a few months ago I couln’t spell Glockenspiel, now I’ll have to learn Italian, too.

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