Behind the Closed Doors of City Hall

So what in the world is going on in City Hall?  I venture in the front doors only rarely – usually to pay a water bill or attend an occasional meeting – so I am not privy to what goes on behind closed doors. 

But I’ve heard whispers and rumors.  And these hushed words may soon blow the doors wide open, thanks to another lawsuit that has roosted on the rooftop of city hall

First, go read the article.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

To me, this all boils down to accountability.  Who is accountable for employees behaving badly?  I think City Administrator Mark Moshea probably has his hands too full to provide the oversight that is apparently needed for every single person who works for the city.  If a city worker has a problem, they should be able to go to someone without fear of personal reprisal. 

There must be a system in place that will lift up outstanding employees – one that will justify appropriate pay raises for work well done.

There must be a system in place that will also hold an employee accountable if they regularly show up late for work, if they slough off their work to other staff, if they make racist, sexist, or inappropriate remarks.

A system like an ANNUAL PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL must be implemented.  Every company in my considerable work experience requires employees to undergo a review of their work each year.  Good performance appraisals don’t just criticize, but they also help workers to understand their strengths and suggest how to work on weak areas.  Raises should be based on the work performance of the employee.  If they’ve done a super crappy job throughout the year, a raise is not given and the employee is placed on probation, ranging from two to six months.  If an employee has done a bang-up, super terrific job, then they should definitely get a bigger raise than Joe Schmuck whose work stinks.

As a Realtor, I am not an employee of my firm but am an independent contractor. You know what?  We STILL have meetings with our broker each year to talk about our work and marketing plans, etc.  So why does LaVergne not review city employees on an annual basis to determine whether their work merits a salary increase or if there are problems?

As a taxpayer, I was absolutely appalled to hear that the city doesn’t give workers this opportunity to shine.  According to Archer North’s Performance Appraisal web page,

In the absence of a carefully structured system of appraisal, people will tend to judge the work performance of others, including subordinates, naturally, informally and arbitrarily.

The human inclination to judge can create serious motivational, ethical and legal problems in the workplace. Without a structured appraisal system, there is little chance of ensuring that the judgements made will be lawful, fair, defensible and accurate.

I think that pretty well sums it up, wouldn’t you agree?  LaVergne management: You need to pay attention to this or we will continue to see our tax dollars going to waste on lawsuits filed by unhappy workers followed by legal fees and settlement fees.  I would rather see my money used to build a youth center for our bored population of teens to keep them out of trouble.  I’d rather see my taxpayer dollars be used to finally build that city park back in Lake Forest.  I’d like to see my taxpayer dollars be used for a stronger, better paid police force.

Get with the program, LaVergne. Though performance appraisals are not always pleasant for a supervisor or an employee, they are necessary.  They are hard work, but…

There is a critical need for remunerative justice in organizations. Performance appraisal – whatever its practical flaws – is the only process available to help achieve fair, decent and consistent reward outcomes.

 And they should be conducted citywide, from the bottom to the top.

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17 Responses

  1. Very well said Kathy T….I agree with you whole heartlied. The city does need to put this into place. Maybe its time for change now and the city is not getting good P.R. with this. I know one thing I would love to work for the city. Easy job huh? I know there is too much drama there and it’s not for me!!

  2. I’m glad things like this are coming to light. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in City Hall that should NOT be going on. It makes for a poor working environment which doesn’t benefit anyone.

    I wish there was a safe route for allegations like this to be investigated without any threat of retaliation. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

  3. Federal EEO complaints do have retaliation safeguards.I am not sure of all the details,but a filed complaint may be the better recourse.

  4. Right on. It shocks me to no end that the city does not have performance appraisals. Get with the program, LaVergne!

  5. you tell em Ivy….There really does need to be a program there to work with the employees.

  6. […] Drama Llama A blog of Drama, laughter, and craziness « Exxon Mobil made $40 billion in 2007 off of the American people… Behind the Closed Doors of City Hall « This is La Vergne, TN April 02 2008 Behind the Closed Doors of City Hall « This is La Vergne, TN […]

  7. That is the reason why I don’t buy Exxon gas. My husband only buys from them out of convenience.

  8. After reading the article in today’s online DNJ, I was somewhat relieved and angered at the same time. I’m relieved that things are coming out into the open and hope that things will get better.

    At the same time, I’m angered because this has gone on for WAY too long, and it shouldn’t have to come to this point.

    Sad thing is, is that it won’t get fixed if someone (Council, the City Administrator, etc.) won’t take a stand and show a lack of tolerance for this behavior, eliminate those who behave this way, and hire in professionals. Some folks mentioned in the article should have been “let go” years ago, but the city won’t because they’re afraid of retaliation.

  9. Todays article is more interesting than yeterdays. First off, I think this has very little to do with La Vergne’s elected officials. Does the Mayor have the right to hire/fire employees? I thought that’s why we had a city administrator?

    I know Ken, Pamela, and Calvin from LV neighborhood watch meetings, and they are all nice people and I would take their word to be accurate. It’s just sad that this is the type of front page PR we get in La Vergne

  10. The city administrator SHOULD be able to take care of issues like this. He’s not. Or hasn’t. This kind of behavior has been happening for years, and nothing has ever happened. If he can’t or won’t take care of the issue(s), then by all means, the Mayor and Council should.

  11. After being at city hall all I can say…NO COMMENT!!

  12. Here’s the next question: Who hires/fires the city administrator? I assume the M/A board.

    Again, this is why I feel the city administrator should have to live in the city limits. If La Vergne turns into Antioch, he’s got no dog in the hunt. His property values aren’t hurt, his quality of life doesn’t go down, his risk of being a victim of crime doens’t go up because he lives in SMYRNA!

    Don’t get me wrong, Smyrna is a great place and I do’nt have anything personally against Mark Moshea, but I think that the City should require the City Administrator to meet the same residency requirements as and other elected official in LV. I believe there are plenty of qualified candidates living right here among the other 30,000 of us.

    In fact, why not have residency requirements for more than just the Administrator. Ok, you can’t require all police officers, firemen, etc. to live here, but you should require the Police Chief to live here (he lives in m’boro), the city publicist, the department heads should all live in this city. It’s not like they don’t make enough money to afford a home here.

  13. The Board of Mayor & Aldermen hire/fire the City Administrator. I’m assuming (correct me if I’m wrong) they are the ones who do his annual evaluation.

  14. “It’s not like they don’t make enough money to afford a home here”

    Michael – you obviously don’t know what the city employees make. They are way behind what other cities in the area pay their employees. Last year, I saw a copy of the pay scale and I compared it with Smyrna’s (which is or was on their website) and La Vergne is much lower all across the board.

    I don’t like it when people start telling other people where to live. I don’t care who you work for, whether it’s the city or any other business. I can understand emergency personnel or the administrator being required to live inside city limits or within a certain distance in order to be able to respond quickly to emergencies, but when you start mandating that all employees or even all dept. heads must live in the city – I have a problem with it. This is America and you should be able to live where you want to without any govt. interference.

    If you have a good employee that is doing their job, it’s not going to matter if they live in the city or not. They should still be doing the best job they can for La Vergne. In most cases, I think most of the current employees are doing the best they can with what they have to work with.

    BTW – the city council do hire and fire the city manager, but they don’t do an annual evaluation on him either. HR has never set up a system to do any evaluations for employees. It should be up to the city manager and the HR dept. to set that up and make sure it gets done every year.

  15. My husband has worked for Metro for over 30 years. For the longest he was not allowed to move outside Davidson county (no matter how badly we wanted to). They finally lifted that restriction so employees can live in whatever county they want. He is in upper management but it hasn’t affected the job he does in any way. I don’t think city employees should be required to live within city limits. I agree that this is America and we should be allowed to live wherever we choose.

  16. It is probably not a good idea to hire “Joe’s uncle who lives in La Vergne” as an engineer, because he has a degree in horticulture. Most people that work for the city have the best interest of the people in mind, as well.

    Blah blah is absolutely right. Most cities in the Nashville area do not have a residency requirement, and with the pay scale also being lower, that would make it impossible to hire or maintain qualified staff. A lot of the people that work in the city that live out of town take pride in their job, and I don’t think that it is a fair assessment to say they don’t care.

  17. Of course, if they had annual evaluations, we wouldn’t have to worry *where* they lived because they would be fired if they were doing a crappy job.

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