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Here’s The Scoop … Town Manager Performance Review Evaluation #3 … Comments …. Minus 1!…

October 22, 2009 by Barbara

4 OUT OF 5 COMMISSIONERS DID THEIR JOB!…

Dear Readers…at the September 10, 2009 Round Table the commission sat down and made some decisions about the Town Manager’s review…This review was brought to their attention last winter and it was made known to them it was stipulated in the Manager’s 2007 contract to be done annually BEFORE the final adoption of the Town’s annual budget…Tomorrow they might finally finish some sort of review…But they have already breached her contract by not getting done on time…At this Round Table meeting they all agreed to use the Lauderhill Evaluation put forth by Comm. Clottey (prev. post ) and it was Vice Mayor McIntee who stated they would tabulate the numbers (1-5) …anything 3 or below would be discussed… True to form this elected official who regularly disregards the rules (being an elected official & VFD Officer against the VFD By-laws/deleting 3 1/2 years of Town business related e-mails/ breaking the “cone of silence” by talking to bidders and Attys. that are coming before him/(we hear) purchasing for the VFD in violation of his Fl. Ethics statement to name just a few)…has now ignored the commission’s decision and chose to not fill out the Manager’s review …instead he spoke at the Oct. 20th continuation commission meeting misstating the visiting Range Rider and offered up his own way of doing an evaluation off the cuff not using numbers…stating at the workshop he would say “good, bad or fair”…(The dais seemed to be ready to allow this…they should not!)…Below are the comments that were added into the evaluation forms..( the form can be found by scrolling down or going to the scoops/LBTS agenda-meeting cat.)…by those who followed the rules…

Comm. Silverstone- Chose to just add a few points…

“ALL CONTRACT ENTITIES”

“ADD-  Best Contract w BSO Then Any other Contract City”(as written)

2) “Better New contract with Choice for Waste Removal [Silv. sp. ]then WM” [Waste Management]

BC-Note…His evaluation must have been a 5 minute “ordeal” at best….

Commissioner Clottey…answers correlate to the form…(prev. post)…some will surely raise the ire of many of her constituents and a certain Commissioner …..

I.-“Good relations between the Commission and the Town Manager is a two way street The good of the Town should be the foremost concern . The Town Manager does a very good job of providing information in a timely. Perhaps providing some of it a little earlier on reoccurring items as well as reminding the the Commission in writing on pending issues would ease some of the criticism.”

II-We are fortunate to have someone of Ms Colons financial expertise at the helm.Most of the criticism is unfair since issues being raised are the result of policy decision made by previous Commissions. While other municipalities lost considerable portions of their investments when the stock market crashed a few years ago, LBTS did not due to the diligence of our Town Manager.This and other belt tightening policies implemented by Esther Colon coupled with the current  Commissions decisions on spending and use of funds resulted in the lowering of the mileage rate last year and no increase in the mileage rate in the coming year in spite of a major decrease in revenues.”

BC-Note…That would be the insurance “pools ” which Ms. Colon as well as Pompano Beach did thwart a major loss for bot municipalities… But Ms. Colon never answered the question of any penalty loans being attached …although repeatedly asked…

“Government uses a different methodology for their financial statements than most of us are use to seeing. To criticize the Town Manager because one does not know how to read these statements is again not fair. I have asked the the TM to explain the system during a commission as we are heading into budget season. Both times she complied with a nice power point presentation.”

BC-Note…Ms Colon and staff would not produce the bank statements and the accounts in a timely manner…Ben Freeny a CPA , now a candidate for commission absolutely knows about government accounting and was treated poorly at the podium by the Town Manager, Comm. Clottey and the non-CPA Comm. Silverstone who nastily refers to him as “Mr. Freely”…Former Commission Chuck Clark also understands the statements…the problem again is receiving the complete PRR for those statements and accounts…

” I would recommend a monthly session, in addition to Commission meeting, where the Town Manager or the Finance Manager goes over the monthly financial statements including a summary of current assets. If these are not well attended they can be discontinued.”

BC-Note…A memo was sent back to an e-mail from Comm. Dodd last month that showed the Town Manager was and is supposed to give this information to the commission monthly, as of this date she does not.

III-” Ms Colon is fair in her dealings . While some may not like her answers at times, including me, she treats everyone the same. Problems have arisen when someone wants special treatment. This is not unique to LBTS.”

BC-Note… Take that voters!…

IV- “Unfortunately, size does matter when dealing with other governments, meaning the LBTS does have a more difficult time getting its fair share of resources. For example, when the Broward Planning Organization votes on important issues, LBTS can only vote when larger cities representatives are absent. In spite of this and the town’s limited resources, Esther Colon does an excellent job working and keeping up with other municipal governments and state agencies. Town staff do work hard to track grant money and submit grant applications.”

BC-Note…Both Comm. Clottey and the Town Manager misstated and derailed resident Yann Brandt in his offer to help the town with “green” grants as well as putting the kibosh on a establishing a new committee brought to the dais by the Mayor….after “fearing” Mr Brandt’s involvement…calling it a conflict…pretty funny in light of their support of the “2-hats”…

“Additional Comments:”

“I think that Esther Colon has done a great job considering all the constraints that she has faced. She has taken an organization that was quite lax and turned into one that is trimmed down but very efficient. This is a real bonus to the taxpayers, especially in this economy.”

“I would like the Town Manager to consult with the Commission before making decisions that she knows have the potential to become very controversial or political footballs.”

BC-Note…. The Town Manager has already told the Commissioners she will not comply with this …

“I would like to see Commissioner Dodd and the Town Manager sit down together for several long conversations. They must both agree to keep the contents of these conversations to themselves. Otherwise it will do more harm than good,”

BC-Note…The Town Manager had a meeting with Comm. Dodd a few weeks back and asked her Asst. TM to sit in for “protection”…so any kind of one on one seems out of the question…This writer thinks Comm. Clottey was way out of line to include this in her evaluation…

” I would also like to see an orientation program for newly elected Commission members. Sunshine prevents one commissioner from mentoring another so the orientation program would be very useful. Providing a timetable for expected decisions as well as a presentation on financial statements and terminology would be helpful and alleviate some misunderstandings.”

BC-Note…We hear this was offered at the start of the term by the TM but was not accepted…

Mayor Minnet’s comments…correlate to the form…(prev. post)….these comments show why this Mayor will easily be re-elected …expect a huge win!…

1.”RELATIONS WITH GOVERNING BODY: PROVIDING INFORMATION:”… “openness and non-biased relations are important factors for a town manager. The manager needs to remain neutral at all times and present the facts openly and fairly. Whenever there is the mere appearance of favoritism, the system becomes skewed. I know I am at the top of the loop but I am the last in the loop. Staff is cordial but distant. The town manager has been available but I have to call an assistant first. Changes have been made to procedure without first explaining to the residents and commission. RFP’s must be take into consideration all variables for the community and these have not been identified properly by the town manager. When problems have surfaced, such as issues involving the new garbage collector, the process to fix them has been slow and difficult, and the residents and business owners feel alienated by the process. We are experiencing some problems with areas not properly identified to use and this could have been addressed within the RFP. The town manager’s role is to have plans in place for emergencies such as hurricanes, fire or any other catastrophes. We have a volunteer fire department and a private transport company for advanced life support, but we do not have a fire marshal. Has this been thought through, and its the public health, welfare and safety of the residents of LBTS being considered in all these decisions?”

2. “Organizational relations: the town manager meets expectations on fiscal management except when it came to the payment of the loans. The prepayment clause should have been negotiated before the payment was made. This recommendation did not come from the town manager or the commission. If the commission was better informed about the surplus, it may have opted to reduce mileage and give the taxpayers a significant reduction in this year’s taxes.”

3. Personnel Management: the total number of full-time and contractual employees is 156.25 for a town of 5852 people. Our population has decreased and the amount of employees has increased. Are there job descriptions for all employees, including the town manager? Do we really need a full-time assistant town manager, or four full-time employees in the finance department? Public service role could be promoted and supported better if there was better cooperation between the entities in our community that provide similar activities and have them work together.”

4. ” Managing the organization: the town manager falls below expectations of managing the organization. Where is the planning process and long-range goals? We hear about grants being submitted without our knowledge or approval when we have adequate public safety facilities. A property became available behind the existing public safety facility just months after it was purchased. Why did we have to rush into the purchase? The BSO hasn’t moved , planning and zoning hasn’t moved. Is the public safety building properly utilized? The town manager has a myopic point of view, not able to think outside the box and take recommendations that may benefit the system. Communication is aloof, especially with residents. The town manager will often not speak to residents and will only speak with one local newspaper. The town manager’s position should be neutral and fair.”

5. ” Relations with the public: a town manager’s role is to be fair. The mere appearance of retaliation on anyone’s part is not acceptable, and yet there have been numerous examples of code sweeps or enforcement actions which were aimed at specific businesses or residents. Residents, businesses and employees alike are afraid to speak up.”

6. ” Relations with other governments: the town could reach out better to its closest neighbor, Sea Ranch Lakes. The town manager does look for grants”

Comm. Dodd’s comments…correlate to the form as well…(prev. post)….

“Relations with governing body:”

1. “At times material has been placed in the mail box on the day before the meeting. I believe this is too late and the matter should have been postponed to the next meeting. Last minute submissions should not be made. No updates on the pavilion, no updates on sweeps before they happened, pelican hopper. Budget surplus 18 million not revealed till the last minute. Audits, RFP’s- It’s like pulling teeth to get information.”

2. ” Announced at the last meeting she has discussed rolling over unfinished items with the mayor, town attorney and the commissioners. She did not contact this commissioner. I am not updated because I do not do regular “pop-ins”. This has happened before and the manager stated publicly she will speak to each commissioner as they come through the door.”

3. “Not equally between all Commissioners. The rest of the commission make visits every couple of days and get their questions answered promptly. This commissioner sends e-mails and receives answers on a date received basis. Also often takes 2 e-mails because the question is not answered correctly. The conclusion to get quicker answers is to do Pop-ins.”

BC-Note Comm. Dodd’s business make such Pop-ins a problem, and if this TM is still in place future commissioners who work may also face a disadvantage with this type of management in place

4. ” Yes- when we asked for an appointment or meeting”

5. “No- very little report at all about anything staff is doing, has achieved or is planning to do except through quarterly departmental report. The only time any staff “projects” get discussed is during budget questioning.”

6. ” Yes- She has advised the commission on legislative or public policy but I would like to receive more.”

7. “Understands most of the issues well but fails to update the commission because of frustrations. Example- Pavilion 9 years in the making. Finally the manager took several decisions on her own rather than expalin all the details and refer to the commission. Does not appear to push for updates to the comprehensive plan or push for priority reports for sewer repairs or storm drains and has chosen to run on a day to day repair as it fails basis. Appears not to have understood the height limit issue by virtue of the incorrect survey question.”

8. ” Considered all alternatives-no. Time and again the Town manager has not investigated other municipalities or sought direction before making decisions to the detriment of the town. Recommending to the commission is a course of last resort. She would prefer to make the decision on her own. Evidenced by the bid opening process, changing the wording on special permits, referring the boats problem before writing 24 citations.”

9. ” The commission should have been given a list of her priorities once we were elected as to decisions we needed to make decisions regarding storm water funding, storm water drains, the need and cost for town wide surveys against a top ten list of priorities. Other problem areas needed to be addressed- resurfacing town roads. No mention of the actual cost at the time of purchase to make Police quarters in the public safety building usable.”

Personnel Management”

1. ” Has had an unusually high turnover of staff in key positions. Most of her appointments were from within thereby limiting the new blood, qualifications and new experience needed to help improve town staff expertise. Did not appear to use Florida League of Cities and other municipal journals to even find out the state of the market or the qualifications to fill the post. No competitive interviews held.”

2.” Following the rude argumentative attitude of staff in the front lobby with this commissioner it is evident this attitude has trickled down from the top. Where is the motivation with the manager arriving at 10:00 a.m. Why did she attend the GFOA when this is the fianace director’s conference and not the town manager’s annual conference to further her own ability.”

3. ” Negative- This commissioner has not heard one case of diciplanry action, reprimand or criticism other than the dismissal of Chief Gooding. The other members of staff that left or were fired did so without the matter being brought to the commission’s attention that someone had been disciplined or letters place on their personal files. The commission is not made aware of these instances. Nor is the commission updated with any staff changes till after they happen.The manager regards this as her bailwick and none of the commission’s business.”

4. ” The town manager has by example failed to instill support of Public Service role for city employees. She does not return call, gets in at 10:00 a.m. works late, resents interference and is not personable, diplomatic or approachable in a crisis. She always takes the side of staff irrespective of the issues. Good managers lead by diplomacy, skill, negotoion, humor, sensitivity, understanding without giving ground on the issues.”

5. ” Yes- She will fire them if they dare to disagree-equitable-yes.”

Additional Comments I get the impression that the manager “micromanages” everything and refuses to fully delegate responsibility. The manager will jump in and defend staff before staff have had a chance to express their opinions- the assistant was asked why staff chose Duncan for the recommendation on the parking RFP. The manager appears reluctant to let me question staff because she has the experience to deflect and divert and does not appear to trust staff to answer questions or handle themselves diplomatically or intelligently. Why aren’t the heads of departments at commission meetings to represent their departments and the work they are doing.”

“Managing the organization”

1. ” Appears to have overruled the commissions mutual agreement not to fund the pelican hopper unless it pays for itself. The Pelican hopper continues to run, probably funded by the taxpayer without reference back for direction.”

2. ” Repeatedly asked to give the commission a list of the top ten worst drains, sewers, road flooding only to be faced with stonewall atitude that a survey will cost thousands of dollars. Not prepared to use staff or town contractors to arrive a tht e best estimate rather than spend a large sum on a town wide survey.”

3. No comment”

4. “Appears happy to leave the master plan become obsolete, no pressure on updating the comprehensive plan- it will hapen whenever the legal requirement arises.”

5. ” No- when asked specific questions has a tendency to be monosyllabic in response with unsatisfactory answers. When asked when- instead of a date I get “soon”. When I ask how much did it cost- I get “staff time”. Theserare inappropriate and unhelpful answers. Tries hard not to communicate with this commissioner at all.”

6. No- The administrations attitude is “Black and White”- Code sweeps. If it says Read the we read but not aloud. Spoke down to residents at budget meeting and treated them in a derogtory tone and manner.”

7. While it may be admirable to work till 10:00 p.m. it is still not acceptable to arrive at 10:00 a.m.  Staff needs to be lead by example and leadership.”

8. Has fought this commissioner over many issues usually doing just enough to stay out of trouble. Resented my “interference” on more than one occassion. Does not give any appearance of liking change because it may make more work for staff.”

9. N0- It is my opinion the manager should have stepped in and read the construction bids aloud to diffuse the situation when faced with 14 angry contractors. The issue should have then have been brought before the commission for direction rather than be intransigent and refuse to “read aloud” because it doesn’t say “I have to.” Always takes any comments as a personal attack and responds accordingly instead of diffusing, deflecting and making decisions after a cooling off period.”

“Additional Comments”

“Below average performance because the manager wants to be Number one and not take or ask for direction from the commission. As stated she doesn’t want to be second string to anyone when she took the job. Several issues should have been presented for direction either on the agenda or through the manager’s report for this commission’s decision rather than making her own decision. Pavilion drainage by change order and not new proposal one year later. Pelican hopper, RFP’s -read aloud, Scott Gooding dismissal.”

“Relations with the public”

1. Has been reported to me that she does not return phone calls by many individuals and does not return calls after leaving a message. Does not speak to the press and deflects to the P.O. who is left without adequate information at times. The fishing issue, Interior Digs and several  problems of Trash collection, Causing the Marchelos brothers to go to an attorney and then refuse to discuss other town related issues with them.”

2. ” Makes herself available to certain people. Picks and chooses. Has been seen wearing sunglasses looking for code issues on open containers. ”

3. ” Blames city over the “read aloud” issue stating she had a legal opinion she didn’t have to read aloud. Un-constructive and unhelpful”

4. ” Not heard many words of credit as to how the commission performs. Usually the only criticism is that the commission does not give her direction yet she does not follow up and ask the question until she does get direction but makes the decisions instead.”

“Additional Comments”

“Not sympathetic to any causes or charities- shouldn’t give town money to women in distress, Boy scouts etc., etc. Fiercely protective to town staff even when there might be fault on both sides. She speaks down to residents with demeaning attitude as evidenced at the last budget meeting.”

BC-Note- the commissioners comments were written up on Oct. 5, 2009 and some of these  items have been addressed in the last few weeks …although the managers personality and management style are ongoing…

The Final “installment” of the Town Manager Review is at 4 pm in Jarvis Hall …it will be televised  (Comcast ch. 78) and online… http://lbts.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2

Public is welcome…but no public comment… and we hope the commission will not allow the Vice Mayor to participate due to his non- compliance in filling out the evaluation forms and handing it in…

more to come…

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