Looking Forward By Chris Jones
I was reading your story in NH+ regarding the recent admonishment and suspension of yet another Town employee, this time in the Land Use office, and wondering if the recent events are a sign of things to be or things that were.
With the Town DPW (Department of Public Works) now in the hands of a long-time employee of the Town crew, we once again find ourselves digging deep into our rather slim pickings of existing Town employees to manage through yet another crisis, this time in our Land Use office. It would seem our First Selectman, indeed all of our Selectmen, must find themselves scratching their heads and asking the question, “What is going on?”
I think there are some of us outside of Town Hall wondering the same.
Now the merits of this most recent upset not withstanding, it would appear to the casual observer that all is not well in the hallowed halls of â€˜Investigation Central.’ Cryptic press releases from the First Selectman’s office stating “No Comment” allow for the mind to wander at times. Now it would appear that the crackdown is bordering on a pogrom.
Following on the NH+ article, you write that Town employees are now keeping logs of their comings and goings. This leads me to think it smacks of a tad too much managing.
I have said for years that we are very lucky to have the folks we do at Town Hall doing the work they do. Professional, competent and, for the most part, spot on. In most cases when you call Town Hall you get a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, and in my time very few requests or concerns have ever gone unanswered or unattended. All under the ever changing cast of characters that they serve, both in customers and the politicians.
Every two or so years the rolls change a bit. New bosses mean new ways of doing things, which all begets changes of other sorts as well.
Our former First Selectman paid too little attention to detail and perhaps created an atmosphere of worker independence that was unnecessary. Frankly, from my vantage point the Administrative Assistant was left to run the day to day of the Town on her own. But that’s just my opinion.
Now, with a giant thumb of control placed on the necks of the workers, duty logs are being kept to track employee movements as if they were requiring hall passes to use the lavs.
I can’t help but think that this level and type of scrutiny predicated on â€˜insurance’ concerns would seem a little over the top. Again, to be fair, I’ve only read the NH+ accounting of this so if there is a grander, more meaningful plan to all of this then I’m sure our First Selectman will be the first to let us all know. We can always hope.
To be sure, Mr. Jerram et. al. inherited a very messy situation upon their arrival in office but making matters worse by instituting draconian measures of unneeded disciplines will only serve to mess up things more. We the people want to know that our business of the Town is being conducted, but I suspect many of us would feel that those that are paid to conduct the business of the Town really don’t require a microscope for us to see every subtle nuance or movement in the conduct of their jobs.
I would also suspect an underpinning of discontent is either welling up or potentially welling up in a seismic wave of anxiety, and our government leaders should take stock that the management of our employees needs to be considered and considerate.
One can only hope that this pall of bad karma wafting over Town Hall is just a glitch, not a new way of management. The old way was bad enough.
Chris Jones, a long-time resident of New Hartford, is a former Selectman of the town. Chrisâ€™ Looking Forward commentaries appear regularly on NewHartfordPlus.