Their Way: “Our Way or the Highway”
The secret is now out – “The Addison Way,” which for decades has been the guidepost of our Town, has been redefined by the current Mayor and Council as “Our way or the highway,” as evidenced by the abrupt departure of Ms. Lea Dunn on March 28th – see Dallas Morning News, Sunday, March 29, 2015, “Fireworks erupt at Addison council meeting over severance for city manager.” Based on this very public spectacle, it’s fair to say that our citizens, business owners and operators, and remaining Town of Addison employees at all levels – executives, managers, professionals, and line employees – are wondering, “who’s next?” It’s also fair to say most in town are “walking on egg shells.”
I suppose we should take some solace in the knowledge that Ms. Dunn ultimately received the same severance amount she would have if she had contested the Mayor and Council’s direction to resign and been released for cause. However, I believe we should be appalled that this injustice was allowed to occur by us, the Voters of Addison. Why did Ms. Dunn ‘resign’ and, if she did, why was she given a severance allowance that matched the amount of her contract with the Town? Sounds as if the Mayor and Council bought and paid for silence, as she agreed to a non-disclosure clause as a condition of payment. Wonder what they were afraid she’d tell us.
A huge portion of Addison’s past success has been the cultural/employment climate in the Town, one that rewarded risk-takers and creative thinking. We have Ron Whitehead and Lea Dunn to thank for that. The first answer to a service request from a citizen was typically “yes” followed by any needed financial impact or other resource discussion. See if you can find a staff member who will take a risk these days? Pretty tough, as most aren’t making eye contact and won’t “rock the boat” for anyone. Seems most decisions are “cost-based” now, so if it increases cost we don’t do it. It’s as if we trying to make good on recent campaign promises to reduce taxes and rein in the “generous” employee compensation increases of the past two years. Of course, and doing so all while degrading service levels around Town.
Only a “cock-eyed optimist” would believe that this story turns out well. I realize that the Mayor is unopposed next month so he’s guaranteed another, and final, two years in office. Given his track record in the months since Ron, and now Lea have, departed, I trust he’s busily engaged in revisionist history that will ensure his legacy as one of the great leaders of our Town. As an old Texas cowboy once opined, “There ain’t enough perfume in the world to make that pig smell good!”
How long Addison, how long?