Time for city to answer questions
Accountability is a word that seems to have slipped from our vocabularies. Perhaps this is because few people these days seem to take responsibility for their actions or words.
Well, we think people should be held accountable — the Tahoe Daily Tribune included. Not a week goes by that we are not called to task about a story or headline. Sometimes we nail them, sometimes we do not. But we do own up to what we did wrong. Sometimes it is a matter of differing opinions and not the black and white of right and wrong.
Councilman Tom Davis made a statement this summer at a council meeting about wondering where the oversight was. He later said the comment was not meant for the public, though it was said at a public meeting. Instead, he said it was more of a rhetorical question for staff.
It is the city manager who has oversight of staff. The council has the power to hire and fire the city manager and city attorney.
The council gives a written review to these two. Past and current council members have differing opinions about the process. Councilman Hal Cole does not like written reviews; Davis likes what is going on now because it is more objective than subjective.
It is hard to know what was wrong with the former process because ex-City Manager David Childs said he had the council adopt a form that went over eight or so categories. He had wanted more dialogue with the council during the review, but was satisfied with the process.
But for some reason Mayor Judy Brown’s recollection is that, “David Childs wasn’t really city manager long enough to get a review.”
City Manager Dave Jinkens had the council adopt his form with six significant criteria ranging from leadership to community relations. He was reviewed after six months and again when he hit his year anniversary this summer.
City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo also came with a review form. It has four main objectives to be evaluated on, with goals under each. At first she was reviewed annually, now she said it is every two years.
Brown said, “Catherine is reviewed annually. She gets on us and wants her review. Not everyone on the council is that gung-ho about doing those types of things. I like them.”
Bill Crawford and Brooke Laine, who both exited the council after the election last year, said they spearheaded the review process when they came on board because it was not in place.
“I believe the council by pure definition has complete oversight. How an individual council member chooses to fulfill that or not is more where the problem lies,” Laine said.
The council is working for all of us. It is up to us to hold them accountable. And so we ask the following questions with the hope the five will respond in writing as a group. We will publish the responses as a Q&A.
n The Redevelopment Agency borrowed $5 million from the general fund. What was this money spent on?
n When will it be repaid?
n Where will the money come from to repay the $5 million?
n Is it accurate to describe the Redevelopment Agency as being broke? Why or why not?
n How can we afford to build a multimillion dollar project like the convention center when the agency is essentially broke?
n Does every council member read the entire agenda packet before every meeting?
n David Childs worked part time for the city to work on the budget after he quit as city manager. He was considered a consultant. Is it true he and his wife were being paid benefits by the city at this time? Why was a consultant doing the budget? Why was he working part time when there was an interim city manager?
n Why did the council hire a city attorney with no prior municipal government experience who was working in the law offices of the attorney in town who represents all of the major developers?
n Why wasn’t it considered a conflict of interest to have the former redevelopment manager’s husband working in redevelopment?
n Why did the council put up with incomprehensible budgets year after year? Some members have admitted to not knowing what was in the budget but still voted on them. How do they explain this?
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