The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

December 14, 2012

Councilman calls for mayor to resign

CLINTON — Recently Mayor Mark Vulich exploded to the media about the Clinton City Council’s decision for hiring the firm of Mr. Paul Greufe and Associates with a 5-2 vote. I would like to respond to that outburst.

The position of Clinton City Administrator has been vacant for all practical purposes since early October of 2012. There are serious problems in City Hall folks and we need to provide stability and continuity to City Hall operations by hiring an interim City Administrator.  

The mayor’s role by law is to be a facilitator at meetings. He should be trying to build a consensus with the five votes that favor moving forward instead of working with the two dissenting votes to stop the process. Once again Vulich has injected his personal agenda of control into the affairs of the City Council with the age-old strategy of “divide and conquer.”

Clinton City Ordinances, the Clinton Home Rule Charter, and the laws of Iowa are very clear. The Clinton City Council is responsible for all affairs of the city. Mayor Vulich definitely has some serious issues when it comes to understanding these laws. The mayor’s role under our system of government is essentially ceremonial in nature and is basically confined to cutting ribbons, kissing babies and facilitating meetings. Unfortunately, we have a rogue mayor that is obsessed with running City Hall and these actions have caused some serious community problems that we are all paying for.  

It has now entered the third month of the City Administrator’s position being vacant. I am not surprised with Mayor Vulich’s stalling tactics and lack of cooperation. He hopes to keep this position vacant for at least another six to nine months. Perhaps longer. The end result will predictably lead to a weak list of applicants. Clinton will once again hire another mediocre administrator and this will clearly fall into the mayor’s plans. When he tells his cronies “that I have the Administrator in my pocket.”

The Clinton City Council on Nov. 27 clearly expressed its desire to move forward in filling this position on a 5-2 vote to hire Paul Greufe and Associates. The Council’s wishes are very transparent from the two pages of discussions in the Council minutes that they wished to fill the interim City Administrator and the full time City Administrator positions. The current City Attorney has clearly stated he does not wish to have the extra duties as interim administrator.

The City Council has clearly rejected the Vulich proposal placing him in charge of a special three-member committee to conduct the City Administrator search process. The city’s track record since 2007 is appalling to say the least. Vulich has been a key figure in most of the city’s problems during this time period. Why would you put him, of all people, in charge of anything based on his past record?

One of the key components in making life difficult for the last two administrators is the fact that we have had two mayors that have operated under the false premise that they are in charge of all affairs of the city. This has made the past two City Administrators jobs extremely difficult. Again the law is clear: the mayor has absolutely no power under the current form of government.

The mayor’s office is located right next to the City Administrator’s office. It does not take long for a rogue mayor to start sticking his nose into the daily operations of City Hall by asking constant questions, then offering recommendations and advice, regarding how to run City Hall. This is exactly what has been going on for several years now and it needs to cease.   

There is no use sugar coating the fact that there is a serious rift between the mayor and the City Council. Mayor Vulich has never been noted for his teamwork and is obsessed on getting his way. Vulich has a very poor track record of working with the Clinton City Council. Most Council members have found absolutely no trust or credibility when it comes to dealing with Vulich. The 5-2 November Council vote clearly indicates that the Council wants to move forward in a new direction and should be a wake-up call to a rogue mayor. I would be more than happy to have a public discussion or debate with Vulich about his shortcoming as mayor if he wishes.

The key question for now is where do we go from here as a community and more importantly as the City Council that by law must make these decisions. The city will have a very hard time hiring a top executive based on our current pay scale. Another problem facing a new City Administrator will be the $90 million of debt we have accumulated and the lack of funding to do any significant projects for a very long time.

When you add in all of the bad legal decisions and the bad business decisions that have accumulated this will only further compound the hiring process.

Perhaps the most glaring problem of all though are the city’s internal problems. City Administrators are more than willing to work with Councils, split votes, and the various opinions of Council members. When cities have rogue mayors that step on administrators’ toes, or overreach into the administrator’s department, word gets out. Top administrators are looking for teamwork with the Council that hires them. They do not like to be undercut by rogue mayors that want to pretend they are in charge.

In my opinion the 5-2 Council vote to hire Paul Greufe and Associates was a very positive step for moving this city forward. Plus, five votes is significant in showing this community that the Council is willing to work together. While others may offer conflicting opinions or thoughts regarding what to do in filling these vacancies, the Council ultimately has to live with the decision. A five-vote majority by this council is a big deal and should not be taken lightly.

As for Mayor Vulich, I think he should resign immediately for the good of the community. Based on his past and current history he will continue to be a divisive force within the community. He certainly has no idea what a mayoral facilitator should be doing in regard to working with the Council.

Plus, Vulich certainly will make it very difficult for this community to attract a top candidate. Most of all, as the city struggles to fill these vacancies, Vulich will continue with his rogue actions to poison Clinton City Hall and make life uncomfortable for new administrators.

John Rowland is an at-large councilman on the Clinton City Council.

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