City staff complains about council micro-management

Feb. 07, 2013 @ 06:30 PM

In addition to concerns about nepotism, interviews in the Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein report also highlighted micromanagement, a lack of vision for the city and a blurred line between the city council and the city manager. 

One interviewee stated that Mayor Bobby Kilgore, Council member Dottie Nash and Council member Lynn Keziah. Interviewee 6 noted that Kilgore was "leading the charge." 

Interviewee 30 singles out Nash as a "bully," "meddler" and "micro-manager" in his interview. He added that she wants to control every situation and have her own way. 

Interviewee 2 also noted micromanagement.

"This individual believes that the Council micromanages the City Manager," the report read. "He believes that each Council member has his own agenda which burdens the City Manager." 

Another interviewee said that city hall could better operate with a "hands-off" approach from council. While another said that city council should "let Staff do their jobs."

One interviewee recalled former City Manager Wayne Herron telling him that it was not unusual for Herron to receive seven calls from each Council member when he arrived at the office on any given day. 

All of the interview summaries use the masculine pronoun, regardless of the gender of the interviewee, to protect anonymity. 

Many interviewees discussed the perceived 4-3 split on council. One interviewee said that there is a "with or against" feeling among staff and some member are aware of which employees are "with the '4' or with the '3.'"

"This individual noted that the Council engages in the micromanagement of Staff," the summary of Interviewee 19 read. "This person believes that the Council should set policy and the Staff should implement the Council policy."

Other interview subjects echoed similar sentiments. 

A lack of vision was another recurring theme. 

"This individual believes that the Council lacks vision and needs to establish a collective vision for the City," a summary of Interviewee 2 read. 

At a Tuesday strategic planning meeting, Interim City Manager Greg Demko talked about updating the land use plan, parks plan and trail plan and creating a comprehensive city plan. Something that has not existed in the past. 

One interviewee noted that "there appears to be seven opinions of what the City needs to be–but no one collective vision."

Many interviews called for a clear separation between council and the manager. 

"There needs to be a clear line between Council's role in setting policy and the City Manager's responsibility for the administration of personnel and staff," Interviewee 9 said. "There is a belief that the current lines are blurred."

Another staff member felt the council/manager form of government had been compromised in the city. 

Others noted a perception that the manager standing up to council may jeopardize his job. 

The North Carolina General Statute states that the council hires a city manager and the manager serves at their pleasure. The manager is the chief administrator of the city.

Some of the recommendations in the report are for council to clearly define their relationship and interaction with the city manager and staff.