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Feels Like the Iceberg of Glen Rose City Council Coverup Is Breaking Up

9 October 2010 at 10:49:24 AM

There are three things that give me a glimmer of hope that there is MOVEMENT towards breaking up the logjam. There are several things that happened that gave an aura of stalemate, corruption and incompetence.

The first was when Barbara Mitchell, on her own, and without a vote by city council, decided she would cancel impending city administrator interviews that were scheduled to start the same week. That is, city council had VOTED to hire a city administrator, had put the job position in the paper, and had some interviews scheduled; she up and cancelled them. The City of Glen Rose does not have a monarchy style of government; the town council is suppsoed to be a deliberative body that makes decisions via a democratic VOTE to do thus and so. She was told by Bob Stricklin, another councilman, that what she had done was unethical. That, in turn, led her to come up with another reason which made no logical sense, about why she had cancelled the meetings. Her new explanation was that she did it because she had worried the Open Meetings Act was being violated, something she not only did not mention when giving her cancellation explanation before city council but which is nonsensical given that she cancelled the process outside of council. I do believe she can't have liked it that she was called unethical and perhaps she viewed that as a personal attack. She was the driving nail that successfully led to derailing the city administrator position. Johnny Martin gutting the budget later only added insult to injury to the steps that Mitchell started by her unilateral action.And now she has resigned

The second was when we realized, with a jolt, that Oakdale Park was being run with no plan, no real oversight, without written inspections, without a cerficate of occupancy, a poor accounting system, and lack of safety regulations. In other words, it was like you or me buying a business and sort of hoping that it would run itself without us having to put in some of that *pesky* effort, based on the fact that the previous owner did a good job. I lay the responsibility for this on all of city council but most particularly Mayor Pam Miller. She sets the tone, as mayor, and not only discussed way too much of this in executive session without the public hearing or knowing what was going on, but never pushed, before buying, for there to be an audit and some *experienced* managers. This is NOT A LEMONADE STAND. We've also seen and documented the faulty RV hookups, you know, the ones that Billy Huckaby said could electrocute people, all while Oakdale Park was OPEN AND RENTING, seen the mix of nice renovation along with shoddy (what about that hole in the roof in the old skating rink?), wondered why and who okayed getting an expensive whirlpool tub in one of the cabins BEFORE FIXING THE BASIC PLUMBING AND ELECTRICAL. A reader said here recently that there was not an open bidding process for the plumbing company that did do some of the work. Why not? (That lends itself to the accusation of cronyism, whether true or not). I could go on, but I want to stress that what took me aback was that it was like city council was hands-off and expecting from people with little experience in how to do this, to create a profitable park. If city council had been doing even a modicum of oversight they would have seen, without me being the one to do so, the Hooters receipt and other restaurant goodies that apparently the city workers felt entitiled to as a reward for saving the taxpayers money! The lack of management showed itself in such details as how some of the lifeguards handled themselves, and excuses made on this site about why it was okay for the lifeguards not to be sitting in one of THREE elevated chairs but hanging out by the snack bar or sitting on the edge of the pool. There was MUCK in the bottom of the pool and it's not clear to me if the pool is even in compliance with the law that requires a certain kind of pump as of 2010. There should have been much more diligence and oversight.

The third was when the Glen Rose Reporter, in running a story on nepotism, uncovered a series of police records for Dwain *Moose* Whitfield, son of Barbara Mitchell, councilwoman and Mayor Pro-Tem. It isn't just that they found some old records that showed him, 5 years ago, doing a sexual act in front of others and pleaading guility to it. It's that he lied on his job application about his conviction, for which he served jail time, on "theft by check". He applied for the city job only about 6 months after his indecent exposure charge, and someone apparently didn't turn in the job application to Peggy Busch, so that she could do a background check. No doubt the background check would have shown the recent guilty plea for indecent exposure. When this all came up, city council held an executive session to discuss firing Whitfield, but instead of doing so, Chris Bryant, Johnny Martin and Pam Miller all voted to keep him on. To me, that send a strong message that it's okay if you lie on your job application because there will be no penalty for doing so. But now he has been fired.

I can't even tell you the level of disgust I've had over all those items above. I definitely decided I would never frequent Oakdale Park as long as Whitfield worked for the city, and unless/until Oakdale Park is inspected in all parts, with written documentation, to include all the electrical and plumbing hookups and documentation showing the pool is safe and compliant with the law.

I was happy to see in the paper the other day that some members of the 4b committee were pushing back on the idea that the 4b money should be used as a private piggy bank for the Chamber of Commerce. City Council didn't do so, but kudos to the board which, at least to me, has some common sense. For the first time in a while, I felt that some of that iceberg was melting and good government might return.

And now, Barbara Mitchell has resigned. And her son has been fired. I wish them both the best in whatever endeavors they go on to, but I also believe that, while there's a ways to go, there's some cleanup being done to bring the city back to a professional footing. Let's hope this trend continues.

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1 - Ruth Ann Perkins   10 Oct 2010 @ 10:12:58 PM 

Any more on the  Manager position at Oak Dale?

2 - salon   10 Oct 2010 @ 11:20:56 PM 

I saw an ad in the newspaper for it this last week that said it was applications would be taken until the job is filled. Also, the description of what the manager would do is going to be discussed on Monday night at the council meeting.

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3 - glenrosefan   11 Oct 2010 @ 9:30:10 PM 

It looks like the Mayor has struck again and that the ice jam is freezing over again.  I for one am disgusted with this council.

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