Well, since nobody else has responded to Loulee's post in a substantial way, I guess I will. Mind you, I am no longer a citizen of Miles City and I have no dog in the hunt when it comes to whether or not Joe Whalen remains mayor or not. I know Joe well but we are not what I would consider close friends by any means. I knew him as an employee of the City, a regular attendee of Open Mic, and we once rafted down the Yellowstone with a large group of folks, but we weren't in the same raft.
Still, I think those experiences qualify me to provide a close-up perspective to the things that Loulee has viewed "from afar". Those are her words, not mine. I'll continue to use her words in this post thru the "quote" function.
Thru a serendepitous series of events he becomes mayor of this city.
I find this an interesting choice of words since the "serendepitous" [sic] events that Loulee refers to reflect the exact reason why Mr. Grenz should never even consider another run at public office. As mayor, Joe Whalen's actions always resulted in saving the City money - not costing it hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle lawsuits.
Then we find out he has exposed the city to massive liability by driving city vehiciles and his own with no license or insurance for 9 months.
Joe admitted lack of judgment re: the driver's license/liability insurance issue. He also explained the circumstances which, though not an excuse, provided sufficient cause for most reasonable people to understand how and why he was driving without a license and insurance. The City's attorney explained that the City's liability was rather minimal, not "massive." And that was academic anyway since Joe was not involved in any accidents which I attribute to the fact that he was a very careful driver regardless of whether he was in a city vehicle or his own.
He is censured by the Council when he should have been recalled by the citizens.
I agree that Joe should not have been censured by the Council, mainly because the Council had no such power under Montana law and the offense was minor by any standard of the law. Add to that the many times that the Councilman who led that particular initiative has also led the Council to blindly conduct various aspects of its business with callous disregard for local and state laws, and its clear that the Council lacked the moral qualifications to censure anyone. As to the idea of a recall by the citizens, that would have been a very expensive proposition. The upcoming REGULAR election can serve that purpose: If the citizens don't want Joe as mayor, they can say so now without incurring any additional (and unnecessary) expense.
** (edit/note: When I say "Council" here, I mean the Council as a whole. I observed several individual councilmembers who regularly exerted great energy and effort to comply with pertinent laws and take truly just and wise actions. Ackerman, Thibault, and Partridge come to mind most readily in this regard, and I apologize for including them in the "broad stroke" above.)
Has anyone ever seen a resume or done a background investigation on this man who just happened to pick MC to open his thriving store?
It is easy to detect your personal spite in this comment. As mentioned above, Joe's background has been explored previously and nothing (NOTHING!) of concern arose. If you are going to demand a background investigation of Joe, I hope 1) that you would demand an investigation of all candidates regardless of where they grew up (otherwise you are letting your xenophobia show thru big-time), and 2) you are willing to have your tax dollars fund those investigations.
Then we read that he has issued a dictatorial order that no city employee is to communicate in any fashion with a Council member without his permission.
I was an employee at the City when this directive was issued by the Mayor. Under Miles City's charter, the Mayor is the Chief Executive Officer and thus has responsibility for how the City's business is conducted. The Council is a legislative body responsible for setting policy and budgets. They have no managerial authority. Some councilmembers don't get that distinction, and unfortunately one manager in particular (the former City Clerk) was definitely unclear on that concept as well. Joe's memo cleared that up. And Loulee is very mistaken on a critical point: Joe didn't prohibit conversations between the council and employees; he simply required that all conversations of business-related matters be reported to him. In other words, he was fulfilling his duty as CEO to know what was going on. I've seen other CEOs take far more draconian measures to be sure that they are "in the loop" on things. Joe provided more flexibility to the Council members and employees than some of them deserved under the circumstances. Finally, I spoke with more than one of the managers who were consistently hassled by overreaching councilmembers, and you know what? They LIKED the memo!!!
His style of micromanagement indicates an insecure mistrustful nature, in my opinion.
Interesting you fault Joe for micromanagement as a CEO right after faulting him for taking action to curtail the completely inappropriate micromanagement by Councilmembers. Yes, I said micromanagement by Councilmembers. For instance, Mr. Uden's attempts to direct the police chief and Mr. Ahner's attempts to control the Finance department (don't get me started on his daily visits with the then City Clerk - oh, too late!). And regarding former mayor and current candidate Butch Grenz, how about his famous attempt to dismantle the fire department? That involved more than micromanagement, wouldn't you say? I suppose what it really comes down to is simply this: Anyone looking for a mayoral candidate that is immune from accusations of micromanaging is pretty much bound to be disappointed and may as well set out all future elections. Which would be dumb, right?
As for the rest of Loulee's statement re: insecurities, etc.: Micromanaging may be one sin, but openly practicing arm-chair psychiatry from "afar" should be the eighth deadly sin - in my opinion, anyway.
In the end, I support and encourage Loulee and all other citizens of Miles City to exercise their right (and DUTY) to vote for the best candidate - whoever he/she/they think that is. But whenever someone enters the voting booth, I hope they take with them as much knowledge and awareness as possible and leave their fears, prejudices and half-truths at home. To do any less is a disservice to the candidates, their fellow citizens, and democracy as a whole.
[This message has been edited by Steve Craddock (7/17/2011)]