EDITORIAL: There is a right way and a wrong way to do things
There is a legal way to do things, and there is an illegal way. Just as important, there is a right way to do things, and a wrong way.
Sometimes what is legal, however, may not be “the right thing to do.”
Keyser and Mineral County both lost two very important positions this week in what seemed like a one-two punch to the notion of “the right thing to do.”
Wednesday evening, in a move that clearly surprised both the mayor and the city administrator, the Keyser City Council voted 3-2 to not reappoint Amanda Brafford as city administrator.
The very next day, Mineral County Commission president Roger Leatherman not only confirmed to the News Tribune that city administrator Drew Brubaker had been relieved of his duties, but also noted that the action had actually been taken approximately two weeks ago.
So much about each of these events bothers us.
First of all, let us say the vote taken on the city administrator position was done correctly, as the city charter gives the mayor the authority to appoint the position, but that appointment must be approved by the council.
But was it the right thing to do?
The city administrator said in Wednesday’s open meeting that no one had previously said anything to her about her job performance. We would think if there was a dissatisfaction with what she was doing or how she was doing it, someone should have been designated to sit down and speak with her about their concerns.
Or the entire council should have called an executive session to address the issues.
We are not so naive as to think the three who voted no on her reappointment (Jim Hannas, William Zacot and Jennifer Junkins) hadn’t discussed their plans with each other prior to the meeting.
Why not take their concerns to Amanda herself?
As for the county coordinator, we actually question the legality of the action.
When asked if Drew Brubaker’s job performance had been discussed with him, Commissioner Leatherman said the three commissioners had “got together and went upstairs to his office and talked with him.”
While they obviously took a step that the city council didn’t take but should have, they did it in a questionable manner as there was no emergency or special meeting called. Anytime the majority (or in this case, all) of a governing body gets together to talk business, it constitutes a meeting and proper public notice must be given.
What the commissioners should have done is call either an emergency or special meeting, cite “personnel” as the reason, and go into executive session to discuss their concerns with the coordinator.
And while Leatherman did tell the News Tribune that they had “discussed it some” in previous executive sessions, any decisions made from discussions held during closed-door meetings must be made in open session.
According to Leatherman, they “pretty much made the decision that day” to relieve the coordinator of his duties.
Of course, some will say personnel matters should be kept confidential, but it all depends upon the position. If it had been a clerk in one of the courthouse offices that was relieved of his or her duties, then that position would be kept confidential.
The county coordinator position, however, is a high-profile position appointed by the commission, and therefore should come under public information.
To have kept the information that Mineral County no longer had a county coordinator from the public for two weeks was definitely not the right thing to do.
Do the taxpayers not pay the coordinator’s salary? As well as the city administrator’s salary?
Our elected officials on both the municipal and county level need to start taking a serious look at their ethics.