The Exodus Has Begun
Stop and think about the changes that have taken place in Addison the past two years. We’ve lost two city managers, the communications director, assistant police chief, police chief, special events director, city attorney and more than two dozen experienced, police officers and firefighters. Isn’t it time to stop and ask why?
It is true that two directors retired and Development Services Director Carmen Moran died after a long battle with breast cancer. But people who enjoy their jobs often stay on well past the initial retirement qualification date and both of these had, until this year. What changed? Why were their jobs no longer satisfying when there was no underlying health or family concerns.
The departure of police and fire personnel has been previously documented – their salaries, raises and benefits are no longer competitive with nearby cities. The loss of senior management expertise is much more troubling. Of course, the two most recent departures, Police Chief Ron Davis and Special Events Director Barbara Kovacevich, have handled their leaving professionally. Ron says he had been considering retirement “for several years.” Barbara accepted a new position in Arlington but she has turned down similar opportunities in the past.
Again, the question. What’s changed?
Ron Whitehead’s retirement after a long, successful career was not unexpected. When Lea Dunn was forced out last month, employees realized they had no one left to advocate for them when council members attempted to micromanage their jobs. The Addison Way has always encouraged employees to try to find a w ay to say “yes” to resident needs. Creativity and innovation were encouraged even if the outcomes were not always exactly as expected. If they made a mistake or violated policy in doing so, the city manager provided the necessary counsel and direction to refocus their actions should the situation arise again. Employees grew and flourished.
We still have lip service given to The Addison Way but many employees are afraid to exercise their own judgment. Doing things “by the book” is the result because policy and procedure has become more important than customer service, partially because of the witch hunt atmosphere created, internally, by the council’s continued support of the Kanter investigation. Obviously, taxpayers deserve good management of Town assets, but those assets include competent employees and we’re losing those.
It’s time to hold our elected officials accountable.