City council should wait on manager

Politics is politics and policy is policy. There were plenty of both displayed Wednesday at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston, where a meeting of "concerned citizens" about the city's governance made their discontent — and their choice of future City Council candidates — public.

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Norman Boulay of Lewiston signs a petition to nominate Mark Paradis as a mayoral candidate at a citizen forum held at the Ramada Conference Center in Lewiston on Wednesday.

Let's focus on the policy discussion, since this is a more pressing issue.

There's a petition circulating the city, requesting the current council refrain from hiring a new administrator until the next council is seated. There will be, at least, two new council faces next year, as the Peters brothers have said they will not seek re-election.

There are good arguments for hiring a new administrator immediately, and for waiting. On the pro-immediacy side, there is the renewal of leadership. A city the size of Lewiston needs someone to manage it, without the weakening word of "acting" or "interim" before the title.

This is no slight against the acting administrator, Phil Nadeau, but rather an assessment of the situation. With the title "acting," Nadeau is empowered to steer the ship, but not set its course. A permanent manager is needed for the latter, secure in the position of captain on deck. 

The longer the city is managed in limbo, opportunities will be missed or lost because the possibility exists that indecision — given the uncertainty of leadership — will trump decisiveness. Simply put, an interim administration may find it easier to do nothing rather than make the best decisions for the city. Lewiston deserves more than that.

Waiting is a wise option, too. If there's one thing this upheaval has shown, it is that cordial, respectable and trusting relations are essential between the council and the administrator. Divisiveness impedes progress, as political and power battles become more important than the work of the public.

If this current council seats any administrator this close to the election, there is no guarantee they will be around long to oversee the new manager. Anger about the dismissal of the previous administrator, Jim Bennett, only fuels speculation about the political battles to come.

There have also been public statements by current councilors that criticize the previous council for extending Bennett's contract, thereby handcuffing their successors. But if this sitting council hires an administrator in the short term, this same criticism could be lobbed back at them. 

It doesn't make sense to criticize someone, then turn around and do the same thing yourself. 

So what to do? Wait. Let this council imbroglio settle itself in November. Then, the new panel should hire the best administrator for the city possible, to allow the next two years of Lewiston to be governed and managed by a group of people starting out on the same page.

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Keith Dutton's picture

Don't assume a wealth of

Don't assume a wealth of candidates if the position is advertised before the next elections. I've consulted with a number of city/county managers; not many would even apply knowing they could be out the door with new elections.

 's picture

But Keith there may not be a

But Keith there may not be a need for a wealth of candidates. We KNOW that there is one, that he is qualified, and may already have an inside track to the job. The only questions are whether this was planned and if they go ahead with it.

 's picture

No one is mentioning the

No one is mentioning the real possibility that not only does this council plan on naming a new administrator, but they have already decided on who. Now there is no way to ascertain if this is true since Councilors Therriault and Reed have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep everything "secret", "private" or whatever word you want to use. In fact they've gone into many "executive" sessions to prevent those that oppose them from saying anything in public. Sort of a legal gag rule. However if you take the stated agendas as listed in the local tabloid, their actions since, and the few tidbits we've been able to glean from others it is NOT an unreasonable scenario. Now I realize that Councilor Reed will accuse me of wild speculation, and he is right. But it doesn't mean that I'm wrong.

Nathan McCarron's picture

Robert61 - You demand facts

Robert61 - You demand facts and lob verbal stink bombs when you feel someone has misrepresented what you perceive to be "the facts". Nice attempt with the age old copout of, "I was told by someone". Nice. Ladies and Gentlemen, the double-standard !

 's picture

Looks who's talking. Some

Looks who's talking. Some nerve, criticizing someones anonymity while you and Councilor Therriault have done nothing but hide your actions. First you deny consulting BEFORE the meeting about Mr. Bennett, then you go into executive session to hide ANY information about the meeting, and from what he said Mr. Bennett would have preferred to have it opened, so don't use the personal excuse. Then you go give your reasons to the local tabloid, insuring no questioning which might reveal something important. Since then you've had nothing but "secret" or "private" or whatever you call it discussions, leaving the public in the dark about what's going on. You guys have invented methods to keep things secret so don't criticize others for using the only vehicle available to them.

 's picture

...ensure may imply a

...ensure may imply a virtual guarantee , while insure sometimes stresses the taking of necessary measures beforehand...

You guys went to the extreme right wing tabloid to INSURE no piercing or investigative questions would be asked. But hey, have it your way.

Now, "Mr. Nadeua ", "Privelege", "fofered" were words you used in your reply. Are you really the one to question my vocabulary?

RONALD RIML's picture

Loosely translated: "It's

Loosely translated: "It's our way, or the Highway."

Whether the Administrator is hired before or after the election, he/she will march to that drum.

And the drum roll's already started.........

So "You report, we decide"

When I was a young Sailor - I drank like a Sailor, fought like a Sailor, and screwed like a Sailor. Now that I am old and wise - I have a few scars, but many fond memories.

To wait until the new

To wait until the new Council is elected and seated seems like a logical and prudent course to follow in these stormy waters!


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