The opinions and observations made in Letters to the Editor reflect the views of the submitter(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views nor opinions of the management and staff of News Lincoln County. Those with differing opinions and observations are cordially invited to submit them for purposes of rebuttal or clarification.
From Toledo Mayor Billie Jo Smith
WHAT IS THE UPROAR ABOUT IN TOLEDO?
Three former Toledo city employees want Toledo’s City Council to fire City Manager, Craig Martin. Their reason? He held them accountable for their unacceptable behavior and practices.
The Council hired a neutral investigator to carefully examine the City Manager’s actions and to determine the facts in the dispute. The investigator reported that the employee claims against Martin were unfounded. It instead, revealed behaviors and actions of the now former employees that were unacceptable. Accusations against Martin have also been checked by attorneys and financial advisors. All have been determined to be unfounded.
The City Council, with input from department heads, evaluated the City Manager. The results of the evaluation stated:
Based on the outcome of the evaluation process the City Manager’s work performance consistently meets, and in some cases exceeds, the requirements of the position.
The Council commends the City Manager for his prioritization of public service and positive community relations for himself and all city employees. He has demonstrated strong dedication to the good of the city, and has been very actively involved in the community and in service organizations. His courage, and consistent use of proper legal processes when facing difficult situations is greatly appreciated by the Council.
Toledo has struggled to find and keep City Managers. We now have an excellent one in Craig Martin. He has a wealth of successful experience and is recognized statewide. We have not had a Manager with this kind of knowledge, experience, and dedication to our community in many years. The City Council wants to keep him – not fire him!
WHY A RECALL?
The former employees continue to attack the City Manager. Legal requirements, including personnel regulations, prohibit Mr. Martin from publicly defending himself.
These former employees, who have deep roots in the city, have rallied a group of angry supporters through malicious name calling, unsubstantiated allegations, and misinformation on social media, on their recall petitions, and to the press. The group has demonstrated against the City Manager and pressured the Council to fire him.
All accusations, both former and continuing, have been determined to be unfounded. Nothing illegal or financially inappropriate has taken place. The City Charter, policies and regulations are being followed. Knowing this, the City Council has refused to fire the City Manager.
In order to achieve their goal, the recall group must get their supporters appointed or elected to the City Council. They seek to recall the Mayor and two City Councilors, who they know will continue to stand up for what is right – and replace them with recall supporters.
The targeted Council members know that giving in to the demands of this group is WRONG. No matter how loud the voices, the Councilors cannot support a decision they KNOW to be against the best interests of Toledo.
A RECALL ELECTION NOW IS A WASTE OF LIMITED CITY (TAXPAYER) DOLLARS
Mayor, Billie Jo Smith, and Council President, Terri Strom are finishing their current terms and are running for re-election in the November 2018 General Election.
The City doesn’t have to pay for the November election, which will have three City Council positions and the Mayor’s position on the ballot. Toledo citizens will be electing a quorum of the Council then.
If enough signatures are gathered on the recall petitions, a special election could be held before the November election, which would cost the City of Toledo $6,000 to $8,000. A recall will also use valuable staff time and resources needed for city priorities.
A recall leaves the positions empty, allowing the remaining Council members to appoint interim members. The appointees, with other candidates, would need to run for office in November, in order to remain on the Council in January of 2019, when the new terms begin.
If there is a recall, Mayor Smith and Councilor Strom can and will still be running in the November election.
Doesn’t it make more sense to simply follow the regular process and let Toledo citizens vote for the candidates of their choice in November? A special recall election is a waste of time, energy, and our valuable tax dollars.
Additional submittal by Mayor Smith:
Those citizens wishing to rebut or oppose the statements made above are sincerely invited to send them to: News@NewsLincolnCounty.com
Sunday, July 15th – Submittal by City Councilor Bill Dalbey
I would like to make a few statements in response to a recent letter to the editor from Toledo Mayor Billie Jo Smith. Mayor Smith said:
“Based on the outcome of the evaluation process the City Manager’s work performance consistently meets, and in some cases exceeds, the requirements of the position.
The Council commends the City Manager for his prioritization of public service and positive community relations for himself and all city employees. He has demonstrated strong dedication to the good of the city, and has been very actively involved in the community and in service organizations. His courage, and consistent use of proper legal processes when facing difficult situations is greatly appreciated by the Council.”
This may be a quote from a public statement the Mayor made earlier this year, after Mr. Martin’s evaluation by the council, and I take exception to the statement used in this context, as it seems to imply that Martin had and currently has the support of the entire Toledo City Council. I do not support City Manager Martin’s personnel actions.
I don’t agree that Fire Chief Will Ewing should have been fired for his indiscretion in disclosing budget information to the former Finance Director, and I have very strong objections to the referral of the Ewing/Chavarria information disclosure matter to authorities for criminal investigation, as disclosed by the City Attorney in the June 20th open council meeting. I’ve asked the City Attorney and City Manager for an account of the process which led to these actions, and even though an executive session was convened, purportedly to explain this to the council, no cogent explanation was forthcoming. I would still welcome a frank and open conversation about how and why these decisions were made, and whether some less punitive remedy was available.
The Toledo City Charter, Chapter V, section 20, subsection 8 prevents The City Council from “influencing the City Manager in the removal of an employee”, among other restrictions. The section is primarily intended to prevent cronyism and/or nepotism by members of the council in attempting to influence the City Manager in personnel issues. Unfortunately, this also ties our hands when it comes to decisions involving the hiring or firing of employees. However, as the City Manager serves at the pleasure of the council, it is our right and obligation to demand answers.
There is a consensus among some on the city council that the City Manager has acted appropriately in these matters, that the dismissal of two long-time city employees and resignation of another was a necessary and appropriate thing, and that the subsequent referral to criminal investigation is also warranted. I do not share that view, and although I believe there could have been appropriate disciplinary action short of termination and criminal prosecution, I cannot say it with complete assurance because I feel that I, and the council, still do not know all the facts.
Toledo City Councilperson