Eagle baffles again
The town of Eagle can’t seem to stop its baffling behavior.
This week’s bafflement comes in a couple of forms, one self-inflicted, the other due to a quirk in state law.
Starting with yet another self-inflicted mark on the Town Board’s reputation is the remarkably — perhaps absurdly — short application and interview period the town has set for a town manager search.
After spending the last portion of 2015 embroiled in a self-created controversy over the firing of former Town Manager Jon Stavney, the current board seems determined to have a new town manager hired by mid-March.
Observers of local government can only shake their heads in wonder.
Hiring Stavney in 2013 was about as foregone a conclusion as there can be. The former Town Board member, former Mayor and former county commissioner had the resume, the local knowledge and the desire to do the job. He was obviously the best candidate.
The process still took a full six months.
This board, after firing Stavney, believes it can replace him in roughly 90 days. That optimistic schedule also seems to ignore the fact that three of the Town Board’s seven members were appointed, not elected, meaning five board members face election in April. Presuming a new majority is elected — and voters seem pretty annoyed with this board — that new board would then appoint new town officers, including the town manager — the person responsible for day-to-day operations.
Knowing that, why would any applicant in full possession of his or her senses take this job?
Moreover, why would any town board put taxpayers on the hook to pay off a brand-new manager if there’s a very real prospect that the person they hire won’t be retained? That, by the way, would be a second “go-away” package in addition to the money Stavney’s already being paid as part of his severance agreement.
It’s wildly irresponsible. If the day-to-day management of the town is going well, there’s no reason to take this decision out of the next board’s hands.
The mind boggles.
Which brings us to the rapidly looming deadline — Jan. 25 — for candidates to file paperwork for April’s Town Board election.
This is a quirk of state law, or it would lead to rampant speculation of still more absurd behavior by the current board. But since Eagle is a statutory town, it’s governed by state law.
Most other towns in the county have a home rule form of government, meaning those town charters have more flexibility in powers given to volunteer boards and, yes, election schedules.
But for the fact that it’s this town board that would do the job, we’d recommend that Eagle spend the money to create a new charter and become a home rule town. Hopefully a new, more responsible, board will take a close look at the issue.