– Mayor Harding grilled about filling City Administrator post at Council meeting of March 22.
The City Administrator post officially became available on September 1, 2015, 7 months ago, yet no full-time City Administrator has been hired.
While Mayor Harding appointed an interim City Administrator as he seeks a qualified full-time Administrator, Councilor Joe DePinto specifically asked these questions of Mayor Harding:
1. DePinto: I was curious to know our status of hiring a full-time City Administrator?
Mayor Harding: It’s, it’s just in-process right now.
2. DePinto: How many applicants have we had?”
Mayor Harding: “Oh, I don’t know the exact number, I want to say somewhere between, probably around 40, yea.
3. DePinto: And I was curious, is our interim administrator working on an as-needed basis or is he working a full 40 hours?
Mayor Harding: It’s as needed.
4. DePinto: Is there a reason for that?
Mayor Harding: Uh, is there a reason vs. 40? It’s just set by me, within our current budget. You know, once he gets up to speed and trained, those hours could change.
5. DePinto: What is the process of someone that’s applied…?
Mayor Harding: Um, What is the process, for? You know, this is probably a better discussion for a Study Session, uh, maybe under Council initiatives, than necessarily, and, you know, an open meeting, uh, or whatever – our process for hiring or screening applicants.
* If interim City Administrator Bill Brandon was hired on an “as needed” basis, why?
* If the city is seeking a full-time City Administrator since last October, then they have the $120,000 annual salary already budgeted, unless the mayor allocated those funds for something else.
* Did Mr. Harding move those funds elsewhere?
* I am sure the experience of interim City Administrator Brandon is serving him well to see the “big picture” in Yelm’s City Hall.
* The days of Mayor Harding shoving pertinent Council issues to the Study Sessions and/or Executive Sessions with a complacent council are over – the three new Councilors all ran on “open government” platforms. While some Executive Sessions may be necessary, they have been over-used by this mayor. Even a former Councilor had to abstain from a vote directly after one of these sessions, saying the public had no opportunity to comment on the Council’s decision.
* Mayor Harding is further tarnishing his own legacy here with just over a year-and-a-half left in his term. I expect more open challenges to his subterfuge in the months ahead.
* Mayor Harding has been challenged by his Councilors and now been forewarned about Gov. Inslee’s open meeting law fines (below)!
– “Inslee OKs stricter fines for violating open meeting laws”
“Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill that increases penalties for violations of the state’s open public meetings laws.
Inslee signed Senate Bill 6171 into law on Tuesday [March 28]. The Open Public Meetings Act requires certain meetings by governing bodies, such as city councils and school boards, to be open to the public. A public official that knowingly attends a meeting that violates the open meeting rules is fined under current law. The bill, requested by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, increases those fines from $100 to $500 for a first-time offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.
“…Ferguson said the bill promotes “open and honest government” in the state,” quoting KHQ-TV News.
– Bottom line:
Yelm needs a full-time City Administrator on-the-job daily, so the Department Heads can exchange ideas, views, and dialogue with a hands-on City Administrator to effectively do their jobs, and to be more free to bring up issues, suggestions and recommendations without the mayor’s intimidation, whether outright or implied.