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Keep Council In the Loop

Any complex organization, including many local governments, must have a chain of command for employees. Otherwise, managerial chaos can ensue.

Blocking access to the top link in that chain is not wise, however.

Weirton City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo, perhaps thinking it was for sound management reasons, attempted to do that. Reportedly, he established a policy that directors or heads of municipal departments should avoid contacting Weirton City Council members — except through him.

Last week, council members voted unanimously to direct DiBartolomeo to rescind that policy. A resolution approved by a 7-0 vote “directs the City Manager to revoke his policy that directors and/or department heads not answer questions, inquiries or any other discussions council may deem necessary to discuss with them without going through him first.”

If DiBartolomeo’s policy indeed went that far, it is clear why council members viewed it as unacceptable. They and Mayor Harold Miller are the top links in municipal government’s chain of command. When they ask a city employee for information, they have every right to receive it without having to channel the request through anyone else.

Perhaps DiBartolomeo merely wanted to ensure he is kept in the loop regarding the various municipal departments. Clearly, however, council members felt his policy was an attempt to keep them out of the loop — and that simply is not acceptable.

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