Mayor Is Criticized

Editor, News-Register:

The caption over a letter appearing in these pages on 23 January 2019 read: :Mayor Explains Council Process.” With all due respect, Mayor Glenn Elliott didn’t explain a single thing. What the mayor did in “explaining” why the city refused (until the newspaper used the Freedom of Information Act) to release the names of those persons who submitted applications for a vacant City Council position was to follow one of oldest of legal subterfuges, i.e., If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bulll—-.

After reaffirming “this City Council’s commitment to transparency,” the mayor went on to “explain” why he believes in no such thing. He disavowed any “nefarious purpose” and says that the refusal to provide the names was based on three factors:

1) “guidance from City Staff.” Here the mayor quotes the city manager, quoting the city solicitor, who allegedly said to follow procedure applied with regard to the retirement of the city clerk. I don’t know whether this procedure is an illustration of “the blind leading the blind” or just bureaucratic buck-passing.

2) “adherence to past practice.” The mayor doesn’t cite a single relevant precedent concerning the release of names. If he was sincerely looking for guidance — rather than just rationalizing a fait accompli — he might have consider the way our state handles judicial appointments: The names of those seeking the appointments are public from the beginning.

3) “a desire for decency.” What in God’s name does the mayor mean by this? What’s decent about keeping public business from the public? The only factoid that the mayor has discussed publicly about the whole thing is that council discussed “a potential conflict of interest” concerning a “relationship” that the eventual appointee had with “a city employee”!

I have no idea what the mayor means when he uses the word “relationship.” Were other candidates queried about their situations?

From a distance of 40 plus miles, it seems to me that the mayor’s concept of “decency” consists of two basic principles.

First, people should be shielded from having it made public knowledge that they applied for a job and didn’t get it. Second, it is all right to “out” people who are in “relationships.”

H. John Rogers

New Martinsville

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