"City commissioners gave top city employees glowing performance reviews this week, but stayed away from reviewing any of the recent missteps plaguing the city," read the top story of the Aug. 30 Register.
The review for the top officers mandated in the city charter -- including Clerk B. Joyce Brown, Manager Matt Kline, Finance Director Mark Widman and Law Director Don Icsman -- offered congratulations for jobs well done and suggestions for improvement.
While the job performances may have indeed been "well done" by commissioners' standards, the reviews ignored any serious troubles within the city -- most notably the costly investigation of former police Chief Kim Nuesse, a community development department scandal and an internal investigation of the fire department in which the fire chief's life was threatened.
Commissioner Craig Stahl said it was not appropriate to include those aforementioned city problems in the reviews of the employees since some of those issues are ongoing.
Well, shoot, congratulations all around then! Keep up the good work!
We appreciate the commissioners' efforts to give the city's top employees some suggestions for improvement, however, the apparent one-sided reviews in a time when the city needs serious improvement across the board, and especially in a few departments, is troubling.
A fair and objective review includes criticism, and demands, not merely suggests, a higher level of performance. Give credit where credit is due and save raises and glowing reviews for those truly exceptional employees.
However, if there are problems, as Commissioner Dennis Murray concedes when he says, "To one extent or another, I'm sure those issues were on everyone's minds," they need to be addressed, not ignored. If they're not addressed, they're destined to to happen again and again. Can we really afford that?
We need accountability from our top city officers and we need our city commissioners to demand the very best, not look the other way.
Instead, it's becoming apparent that our commissioners are quick to put a coat of paint on a problem, but slow to solve the problem in the first place.