We all know that we have been in trouble for a very long time. We hired Susan Stanton to fix it all. We expected her to be a miracle worker. In some respects she has done very well. She works her "azz" off. She is our CEO in all of this turmoil to lead us out of the hole, however, the confusion and agitation seem to be rolling down hill like a snowball to hell. There is no doubt in my mind that she is highly capable, highly qualified. But--have we expected too much in the 29 months she has been here?
She has terminated employees whose contributions were not up to her expectations. I found out a few weeks ago that Gina Baker took a "voluntary lay-off." She recently "terminated" our IT guy who has been with us forever and has terminated others who were well thought of. Stanton has re-organized and has hired some good people but those who want to hang on have to play in her ball field with her rules. She has decreased departmental budgets. She has negotiated contracts with the PBSO and the IBEW. She has managed to get us into new law suits, numbers in the 3 digits I have been told.
Are our employees allowed to be thinking people? Are they the types to say "No, city manager, doing it this way would be better...perhaps Johnny Longboats is not the best for our Casino." Maybe the residents do not want the beach to stay opened well into the morning hours causing noise, more expense in public safety, turtle lighting for $2 million. Instead of those under the chain of command finding ways to justify what the CM wants, are there better choices and decisions for our city that they are afraid to mention? I worry about that.
When money is spent, the City Commission rarely asks questions. We sit and listen to the lip service right out of that weekly private one-on-one. During the Finance Advisory Board meeting last week we found out that the city paid for Compass' air conditioning to the tune of $250,000. Did that ever come before the Commission? What was the justification other than the city manager's belief that we should pay for any and all costs relative to our property.
Cara Jennings stated on April 7, 2009 that, "I liked my interview with Ms. Stanton and that she was willing to build a team...that she had a horizontal style of management instead of a chain of command." I have no idea what that means. I was there for the interview and was highly impressed. Stanton has built a team of managers who know who the boss is. I worry about independent thinking--Is it being suppressed? Do we have a bunch of "yes" men? I am sure that they all have on their kid gloves when expressing their ideas. However, the chain of command is evident and Stanton is at the top of that chain. Nothing happens without her knowledge. We have seen what has occurred when she allowed a few managers to do their own thing--Bryant Park parking lot disasters and Union deals. William Waters, the new Community Development Director, will have leeway as new departments are organized, with 6 new departments and 4 new employees. Perhaps he will be a special exception, probably not.
Right now the CM is increasing taxes and special assessments on all of us in order to have a cushion going forward to make up for all the missing millions and to meet these expenditures that have been allocated in her budget. Millions have been spent over the past few years and no one can tell us where. Was it on all the law suits? Was it the black hole at the utility? Ask one Commissioner where the Cash reserves went and see what they tell you. With more public meetings under this city manager than any in the history of Lake Worth, it just seems that the City is less transparent and that the public is out of the loop. No one really knows what's going on.
Our public commentary has been reduced to 2 minutes and what we say is no longer recorded in the Minutes. Does that tell you anything about this management style? Because of the way the citizenry has been treated, it is now an easy thing to do to be curt from those who speak from the dais to actually throwing one of us out of the chamber. We are talked down to. They go over and over their propaganda like we are total jerks. It is a constant Dog and Pony Show and the only ones falling for it are the commissioners. I thought that we were the bosses.
On Tuesday we had 2 minutes to tell the City just what we thought about them grabbing our cash for what the city tells us is for a pension that is out of control--a one way trip to the moon.
We all know that since the line item for pension costs was eliminated that this money just gets thrown into the pot. Why hasn't the commission insisted that the city manager have a line item and pay this expense just like the city always did in the past prior to Stanton? Commissioner Maxwell brought it up for this special assessment. There is nothing "special about it other than it is a con on the taxpayers. Why haven't they insisted that we stay within a reasonable budget and reduce the spending...delay some capital improvement projects? They did not listen nor did they care. This is no way to run a "business."