The handling of the embattled Fire Chief’s job resignation/rehire by the City Manager certainly leaves more questions than answers.
In capsule form, here’s what has transpired: Fire Chief placed on administrative leave with full pay ($161,900/year) in May; restricted (read: confined) to his house unless permission to attend any personal issue is approved by the City Manager; submits a letter of resignation as Fire Chief; the City Manager accepts letter of resignation then rehires him at his current salary as a “grants writer” on August 1st.
The City Manager, who often places staff members up front to absorb or catch any spears of criticism, has an easy out in answering questions about this problematic personnel issue...he cannot discuss it because it is a personnel issue. How convenient. And it appears that the Fire Chief doesn’t want to talk either. Doesn’t this make understanding and knowing, by citizens, how legitimate the resolution to this thorny personnel issue has been handled by the City Manager?
Questions floating around the community that would assist in understanding any part of this problem could include the following:
- How often in the real world of business does a manager reward an employees competency or potential legal problems by placing that individual in a lesser position at the same rate of pay on the day they resign?
- Is $161,900 the going rate for a new hire as a “grants writer” in the business world?
- If the city was in dire need of a “grants writer,” why wasn’t the position posted and open for others in the city administration to submit applications prior to August 1st?
- Were any other city hall employees qualified to fill this “grants writer” position?
- What are the stated qualifications and experience requirements for a “grants writer” position on the City Manager’s staff?
- Did the City Manager already have these funds squirreled away to handle a “special” hiring issue like this?
- If the city manager made this resignation/rehire decision on Wednesday, why did he wait until Friday to inform members of the council?
- Was cover from all the controversy surrounding the current Entertainment Center debacle being used to mask his actions?
- Did the fact that an article would be appearing in the DMN on Friday hasten his notifying council members?
- Is the city manager playing the council?
- Is the city council playing the citizens by not getting to the bottom of this odiferous rehiring issue?
- Is the end result that the citizens are the ones being played by the City Manager and the city council?
- Should a cynic think that the Fire Chief has an explosive CYA file on the City Manager?
- Would this resignation/rehiring be a new phase of the City Manager’s 7-Stigma management control and obfuscation program?
And finally, the one question floating around that shouldn’t even be asked -- as it pertains to favoritism -- but keeps popping up in conversations: If the Fire Chief had been Black, Caucasian or Asian, would the same apparent preferential treatment have been applied and that individual rehired as a “grants writer” for the city at their current salary of $161,900?
While the City Manager often pontificates how Irving city hall and his bureaucracy hums like a well oiled machine, staff of the CCR is starting to believe that a major oil change and engine overhaul is due to remove all the sludge and misfirings of McDougalville, the Entertainment Center snafu and rampant spending on pet projects.