Last Wednesday, June 30, 2010, Mayor Dewey Bartlett issued two memos to the City Council on two separate topics. One memo reminded City Council members to follow the City Charter rules when requesting information and not to contact employees directly. The second memo requested that seven-day advance notice be given when a report or additional information from a City department is to be presented at a City Council Committee Meeting or Regular Meeting.
“Neither of these memos was retaliatory,” said Mayor Dewey Bartlett. “Regarding the first memo, about contacting City employees, this Policy is established in the City Charter and I was simply affirming that policy. Some recent contacts by Council members with City employees have bordered on “directing those employees,” a direct violation of the Charter. These contacts leave employees feeling intimidated and confused over their careers if they say no.”
Mayor Bartlett also clarified the second memo, which requested that when Council members create an agenda item for a City Council Committee or Regular Meeting, the City Department responsible for supplying that information be given a minimum of seven days notice.
“We have employees of City Departments who find out late on Friday afternoons, when the Tuesday Council Committee Meeting agendas are posted, that they have hours of work to complete – in addition to their normal work duties – in order to be prepared to present information or provide a report for the following Tuesday’s committee meeting,” Bartlett said. “There is no question that the Council is entitled to make those requests and to receive this information.”
“However, the short time frame between the request and the presentation date creates a problem related to staff’s and department’s daily work plan,” Bartlett continued. “Over the last year, dropping city revenues have required budget reductions. Employees who have retired or taken other jobs have not been replaced. Most departments are short-staffed. City employees have extra heavy daily and weekly workloads.
“It is only right that department heads be given time to incorporate a Council information request into the regular work load of their department. Otherwise, the time required gathering the information becomes unmanageable.”
“The beginning of a new fiscal year seemed the appropriate time to address these two issues. I elected to do so by sending each Council member a memo, to be sure that the procedure is understood by everybody,” Mayor Bartlett concluded.