Clarifications and amplifications

I’m going to try to be an equal opportunity complainer tonight.

I’d been meaning to note something about the WoMag blog post about the city auditor “search” (which was mostly quite good):

According to DelSignore, at least two significant avenues were not pursued. One was the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) newsletter, which lists municipal finance job openings around the country. The other is the Massachusetts Government Finance Officers Association (MGFOA), which he says sends Twitter messages  to all municipal finance officers on a bi-monthly basis. Both might have attracted a much larger and more qualified pool of applicants, but neither was used, says DelSignore.

Except, of course, that the MGFOA actually HAS the city auditor job listed on their website.

Sunday’s Telegram brought us a Nick K. column [$] about the mysterious forces attacking City Clerk Rushford:

Meanwhile, some city councilors feel City Manager Michael V. O’Brien should have spoken up in defense of Mr. Rushford when all this hit the fan because, after all, he was the one who appointed the city clerk to the election position in 2007.

Whenever any of Mr. O’Brien’s department heads have gotten into tight spots in the past, the manager has never been bashful about strongly defending them. That did not happen in this instance.

It could be that Mr. O’Brien did not want to butt into the affairs of the Election Commission. That’s certainly plausible because he has not gotten involved when controversial matters arise on other boards and commissions.

It should, of course, be noted that the city clerk is not, in fact, one of Mr. O’Brien’s department heads.

As folks may recall, the city clerk reports to the City Council.  And the executive director of the Election Commission is appointed by the
city manager.

This person became one in the same as a result of home rule legislation filed in 2007 (requested by the City Manager).

In 2007, the city’s then-executive director of the Election Commission, Craig Manseau, left the city for greener pastures, leaving us without anyone in that position.  So the City Manager recommended that a change be made so that the city clerk could also serve as the director of elections.

The City Council approved this recommendation at their June 19, 2007 meeting with an 11-0 vote.

You can find a fuller account in the Telegram article “O’Brien seeking changes; Manager wants to put elections with clerk” from June 18, 2007.  (You can access the Telegram archives with your library card.)

Longtime 508 listeners should also note that the June 19, 2007 City Council meeting is when Karon Shea was first appointed to the License Commission.

As someone once said to me, the problem with badly-run organizations (we’re not naming names) is that if you do a good job, you’ll likely be rewarded with more work responsibilities.

And as we’ve seen in recent years, the City of Worcester tends to load its star employees with more and more responsibilities (or extended contracts) rather than try to find suitable replacements or assistants.

The city spent $14,000 on an executive search that yielded candidates no one found acceptable.

Or, rather, they spent $14,000 to identify some candidates they found acceptable to be the deputy auditor but not the head auditor, and gave the current auditor a raise.

The city auditor made his wish to retire be known more than two years ago, and (according to the Telegram) the deputy auditor’s position has been unfilled for two years.

What are we doing right now to avoid this problem in the immediate future?  And after the ordeal of the interview/rejection process, would any of these candidates want to work for the city?

But why should the City Council pay attention to its own issues (a complete lack of institutional memory and the desperate need to find a city auditor, among others) when it can deflect attention to the schools?

So — in short — the City Council knew they were going to have a staffing problem in the auditor’s office for two years, and there has been no one waiting in the wings, but they thought they could hire someone within a month of the current auditor retiring and have a smooth transition.  Oh, and have the new auditor move to Worcester at a moment’s notice.

The need to find an auditor will not go away, no matter how many distractions present themselves.

Let’s hope that by February the deputy city auditor’s position has been posted and attracts quality candidates and –especially — that we can learn that one can only count on cajoling someone out of retirement for so long.


3 thoughts on “Clarifications and amplifications

  1. Rocket Science, It Ain't... says:

    On the Clerk spat, it seems relatively simple, actually:

    -The lead push against the City Clerk comes from outside, where Bonnie Johnson and her ilk are alleging everything from incompetence to open partisanship to outright assault. Bonnie and Activate Worcester have also been working to insert poll workers into the system who will corroborate their insane view of events, as you’ve previously mentioned. More on this in a minute.–171239501.html

    -The push from inside the Elections Commission is mostly coming from David Lapierre, who is the most recent appointee to the body, who got to bypass the Citizen Advisory Council appointment process by virtue of orders from the City Manager and who was appointed in a closed process directly by the City Manager. The other commissioner on this push seems to be Bob Winant. He’s supposedly a Democrat, so why would he be running with Activate Worcester. Could it be because his wife supports their efforts, and publicly testified that all voters should have to show ID?

    -The push from City Council was and is coming only from Konnie, who has chosen to not to officially associate with Activate Worcester/Seven Hills Tea Party, but who has attended their events and signed their petitions and stood for them and with them on matters of substance on the council floor.

    -The last prong of the push has come from poll workers, and this is the most concerning bit. You did a brilliant job connecting poll workers with their extracurricular activities previously, and these are the people they’re calling in to fill the room at Elections Commissions meetings or to corroborate fantasy tales that the Clerk is some meanie assaultive election-throwing demon.

    Look at the commonalities in contact and message between all of the above, and you’ll realize how few people it really takes to usurp reality in this town.

  2. elmparkblogger says:

    this is why this blog is a must read for average citizens who care about the city…more and more and more, it is getting harder to find investigative pieces on urban news and city politics in Worcester..and this stuff is free

  3. jmstewart says:

    the CAC has no role in the appointment of election commissioners. there are another set of rules as described in our charter

    Appointment, Term of Office – The city manager, subject to approval, by majority vote of the city
    council, shall appoint the members of the board of election commissioners in accordance with paragraph (a).
    Appointment of the two members representing the two leading political parties shall be made from a list to be
    submitted by the city committee of the political party from the members of which the position is to be filled,
    containing the names of three enrolled members of such party resident in the city and meeting the requirements
    of paragraph (a), selected by a majority vote at a duly called meeting, at which a quorum is present of such
    committee; and every member of said board shall serve until the expiration of his/her term and until his/her
    successor has qualified; provided, however, that if the chair of the city committee has not submitted such list to
    the city manager within forty-five days after notification to said chair by certified mail, the city manager shall
    make such appointment without reference to said list. Such appointments shall be for a term of four years
    beginning April first, except that any appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the unexpired term and shall be
    filled in the same manner as aforesaid.

    John M. Stewart
    former chairman
    former assistant commissioner

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