Getting it Right

It has come to my attention (unfortunately too late) that I misstated the commission meeting time yesterday on the blog. Clearly, I am not to be trusted. Actually, I did get it right at the beginning of the post, but wrong at the end where it would matter most. My sincere apologies, especially to Diane Bernhard who came prepared to discuss her well-thought out comments regarding the Town Manager policies in the code and handbook and regarding the Town Manager’s Employment Agreement.

In an effort to make amends for the error of my ways and give ear to her thoughts, I am posting her comments below. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any discussion of the Town Manager Employment Agreement by the commission at the meeting last night. Let’s hope this topic will come up again before a contract is presented to a prospective manager, because this is wildly important. Please consider letting the commissioners know your thoughts on this matter.

March 21, 2012

Lake Park Code of Ordinances   Section 2 – 82

“The Town Manager shall abide by the policies established by the town commission through ordinances, resolutions and specific motions.”  (P 153 in tonight’s agenda)

When, and I hope it’s not ‘if’, the revised Employee Handbook is accepted by your Resolution, it will become an official document of Town policies. Town policies, as per Section 2 – 82, carry legal weight.

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Now, I would like to bring your attention to the example TOWN MANAGER EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT from today’s agenda (pgs 159 -165).

TM Agreement:

Section 4, Duties and Authority

Defines the duties of the TM as written in the Town Charter and the Town Codes. The Town Charter (Article VI, Section 4) states the “Town Manager has full authority over administration service”.  But, Ordinance 2 – 82 has the TM abiding by the policies established by the Town Commissioners. Therefore, the Town Employee Handbook becomes, in effect, a Handbook of Town Policy, and as such can be used as a viable way to structure the TM duties and authorities.  As in “The Town Manager is hereby authorized to enforce the rules, regulations and policies as established in the Town Employee Handbook.”

TM Agreement:

Section 21, Termination (of the TM) for Cause

There are 6 items defining “for cause” here, but I find #4 to be most pertinent; “Violation of any substantive Town Policy, rule, or regulation, which would subject any other Town employee to termination.”  This might have been grounds for the former TM’s dismissal a long time ago. It certainly should be as we move forward.

TM Agreement:

Section 3, Term

Section 8, Performance Reviews

These sections talk about the TM’s contract holding for one year, and then being renewed each year.  I would like to recommend that the Town Commissioners take this responsibility very seriously in the future. And, as an aid to knowing how the TM is really performing, I suggest the use of an anonymous online TM evaluation system where Department Heads can privately voice their professional opinions and observations without fear of retribution.  This can be achieved by use of a special email address accessible only to the Department Heads, Town Mayor and Town Commissioners.

Furthermore, I’d like to suggest that the proposed Town Manager Employment Agreement be revisited and revised.

Thank you Diane Bernhard and Sue Lloyd for your work behind the scenes for the past months rethinking and rewriting sections of the employee handbook.

This is the kind of thing that has taken attention to detail and hours and hours of these ladies’ time and thought, and it matters immensely. The future of our town hinges on the implementation of the policies found in our town documents. Diane and Sue have done a great service to Lake Park with their work to correct what has gone awry over the years. Unfortunately this isn’t the showy and fun kind of town involvement that everyone will rave about and make a big fuss over and praise, (in fact, those on the dais may be tempted to think it was their own idea) but it matters far more than all the big events combined. Our thanks too, to Jamie Titcomb for stepping into the roll as Interim Town manager with incredible organization, efficiency and willingness to help. He has listened to residents and taken an interest in what concerns them, and he’s gotten involved in matters that cut to the heart of our town’s well-being overall. All of this will impact our effectiveness in the future. Thank you!

PS:  If any of you ever notice that I get something wrong in my post, please feel free to let me know in the comments or by email and I will update my blog entry. Again, my apologies to Diane regarding the incorrect meeting time being stated here yesterday.

Oh, and there is also a new slideshow of pictures from around Lake Park on the upper right hand side of this page. Once opened, if you click where it says “popout”, the slideshow window will pop out and remain on your screen no matter what page or website you are on, so you don’t have to stay on this page to continue watching it through. If anyone has any Lake Park images they would like to see posted here, please feel free to send them along to commonsenselp@yahoo.com and I will work on adding them to this or creating another.

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