Time for Montesano to hire a professional city manager


I can tell everyone this today. There are some pretty ticked off Montesano City Council  Members right now.

When the council votes on something that is presented to them, they first ask questions, listen to the staff and then vote. Believing that what they are voting on is actually what they are voting on. In the case of this recent hot topic, the Waterfront Sale….it obviously wasn’t.

They were told exactly what I and everyone else was told. The sale was greatly advertised to attract bidders and get the best price as well as covenants to guarantee public access for all time. The developer would spend tons of money on shoreline improvement. More.

While we could argue the merits of selling waterfront property at any price, that is a policy argument.

So the council voted, assuming that what they were told was the truth.

As a result of the two last editions of the Vidette, front page above the fold, revelations that none of it was true, there are some on the council looking into this.

It is my opinion that they should be out front making statements, it isn’t just me writing about this anymore. But, that is their right.

The council is a part time position. They have lives, we don’t pay them enough to cover gas. The Mayor is a part time position, we barely pay gas and lunch there. The entire backstop that looks out for us as the citizens is a volunteer organization that relies on what the city workers tell them.

Thats how we got into this mess.

It is obvious we can’t continue this way. Just look at the other mess that cost the city tens of thousands of dollars and good will. The employee investigations. Part time people trying to do the job of a professional trained city manager.  We currently have a city administrator, but that position is a paperwork office position, not a city manager.

We have come to the point that I believe we need to change up how we operate around here.

By hiring a professional City Manager, both the council and Mayor office now would have one professional that can see through BS when he or she sees and hears it – head off employee issues and correct them, and ensure that paperwork and council directives are followed.

It would probably cost us no more than $50,000 a year. A lot of money, but again in my opinion, well worth it.

While a formal investigation of this waterfront sale is going to happen, more will be coming to light, we could have avoided the entire situation had we a professional manager in place.

There is no way on earth six out of seven Montesano City Council members would have voted to just basically give away our city waterfront if they had known the facts. I truly believe that.

The question now is, will the council first take the steps required to restore the public trust in the city departments that failed us as citizens so badly – and will they move to fix the broken system that allowed this to occur in the first place.  What should be giving the council great concern at this moment is that is appears that there was a great effort taken to make sure that the sale they authorized was not advertised to the general public.  Great concern.

Arguing over things they do is a normal part of government. That is to be expected. They were probably looking at me complaining about the waterfront sale like I was crazy. After all, they were told the city had protected itself.

Now that they realize that I wasn’t making it all up, perhaps they will take citizen concerns a little differently.

I don’t hold it against any of them for the treatment I received over this issue the last two and a half years, I understand their reasoning. They must feel pretty used about now.

Our Mayor’s office and elected City Council are part time volunteer positions. They are not able to oversee such a large budget and supervise employees.  Just too many details.   They need help and a voice that they can trust to both protect themselves from situations like this as well as protect the city itself.

Should heads roll over this waterfront deal?  In my opinion you better believe it.  Who at the city was pushing this?  Who made the decision to ignore the council directive that the sale be widely advertised?  In one swoop, our entire city waterfront is now gone.  And we as the citizens of Montesano have got squat to show for it.

The Mayor and council members are good people. I only hope they have the good sense to use this as an opportunity to realize that there is more to running a city than putting out a few yard signs. Help is out there, I am sure the citizens wouldn’t mind one more employee to make sure a situation like this waterfront never…..ever…happens again.

Oh, and one more thing.  If we go this route, can we please make sure that the most qualified person doesn’t just happen to be someone’s relative at the city.



5 thoughts on “Time for Montesano to hire a professional city manager

  1. This is what the Hospital District is going to be like. A City Administrator will still do what the only stakeholder he is answerable to wants him or her to do… The Mayor. That is the inherent issue with a Mayor Council form of government. The hospital will hire a CEO and still that person is the only one that controls everything unless they set up the bylaws saying that all new hires in certain positions are at the pleasure of the board. That may only mean that they can ratify the selection and not fire them. So, it should be interesting.

  2. Good point, there would have to be safeguards. I always thought a city manager form of government was at the will of the council as for hiring and firing. It should never be in the hands of one person such as a Mayor.

    It isn’t that they aren’t good people up there, but lets face it, insurance agents, plumbers, firemen….we are all good at what we do for a living, but that doesn’t make us qualified to run a city. It is painfully obvious.

    A Mayor position here should be cutting ribbons and riding in floats in parades, not suddenly an HR expert or contract specialist.

  3. Tom,
    You seem to be ignoring the elephant in the room. According to the Vidette, it was the Public Works/Planning Director that first brought the idea of declaring the waterfront property surplus. That is a full time well paid position, and we must assume that person is a professional. As a former chairman of a large city planning commission, I can tell you that even the City Administrator can’t be an expert in everything. She, like the Mayor and Council must depend on department heads to provide them with accurate information before they can make important decisions.

    ED NOTE: you are correct in assuming I haven’t got a clue how to run a city. The difference is….I admit it. We really got to get you up there Emery, you would make a very good councilman.

  4. This land transaction in Montesano is heavy stuff–I should forward to, Mayor of Elma, all mayors in Grays Harbor as a case in point. Elma’s city council is often unable to make decisions in a timely, effective & just manner. Recently they have been grabbing land, under the guise of annexation, again. Though, that’s not what I want to talk about here. This is a smaller scale council incident: For instance, Friends of the Library in Elma asked for locked restrooms at the Elma Library after a few incidents; one with a hypodermic needle found stuck into the seat covers in a wall container near the toilet in the women’s restroom, in March. To me, and to ELF (Elma Friends of the Library) this seemed fairly serious, more so than “smokin’ in the boys’ room.” So discussion ensued @ the April meeting. A motion was made and tabled that Elma Friends pay for locks and hire a locksmith to install–immediately. However, as was explained by the Library Manager, this is more complicated than it appears because The City of Elma owns the building and so on….So, after more discussion the library manager said she would approach the mayor & city council–which she did. When I stopped by The Elma Library, yesterday, Thursday 5/29–still no locks. So, sometimes the wheels of City Councils turn slowly and sometimes, they turn quickly before we even know what happened. Of course, this land swindle shows that city councils have bigger fish to fry than locks on library bathrooms. Where is common sense and where is ethics and do you really need a city administrator? How about we start with competent mayors and councils. Am I over simplifying this? Probably but let us cut through the chase–“times they are a changin.” especially on The Harbor. Time to fight the good old boys network. Let’s start with Port Commissioners who get to hold their positions exponentially it seems–16 years? 20 years? What’s the record? They hold these positions regardless of whether they do what is best for the health, safety risks and well being of the people they represent in their districts. It seems crazy. Burdens of oil trains placed on all people in all communities, many who don’t even know our 3 Port Commissioners’ names, or job descriptions. Maybe it’s time we all woke up, as I have said before and pay closer attention…although that is hard to do when questionable transactions such as this story and life threatening oil projects are kept under cover until it’s a done deal. Enough to make a preacher cuss!

  5. We have too much administration in Montesano. It’s time to take a look at the whole structure and come up with LESS administration and MORE people working out in the community.

    The mayor and council should have read the contract before approving it, just like legislators should read bills before passing them. The attorney and administrator should have read the contract, too.

    We just need to make sure we get more competent people in elected and hired positions.

    ED NOTE: Dan, I admire all the people who run for office and take on that thankless task. Me, they would run me out of there in five minutes, I don’t have the temperament for it. I think they are good people trying to do the job they were elected to do, the problem is there is no manual for the job. Without someone in the middle to give them good advise, a couple of rogue people can cause havoc as is the case in my opinion with this waterfront deal. They need a professional city manager.

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