Pevely Looking a Lot Like Arnold

14 Feb

At the heart of the harassment claims filed by Arnold city employees Susie Boone and (as we just learned) Bob Shockey is, I believe, a dislike of oversight. What these two call “harassment” you or I might call “oversight by our elected representatives.” A similar dislike for oversight seems to exist in Pevely.

We learned in the February 7 Leader that new Pevely city administrator Terry Thomas has threatened to quit after just three weeks in his position. According to alderman Dave Shelley, he threatened to quit as soon as his first week on the job. The issue? Thomas says it is a “disagreement over city finances.” Thomas, in a continuation of previous Pevely governance, is trying to raise taxes – this time the city’s gross receipts tax. He’s also trying to get Pevely employees in on LAGERS, the state’s pension plan for local governments. Pevely residents have three times rejected a tax increase to pay for this benefit.

At its most basic, though, I think this sums things up:

Thomas said he does not want to quit, but it would be difficult to continue to work for the city if he is “handcuffed” by [Mayor John] Knoblach and the board.

The fact is, Thomas reports to the mayor and the board of aldermen. They are his boss. He can propose all kinds of ideas and taxes and schemes, but the mayor and board have final say. They were elected by the people of Pevely to perform this duty. If Thomas doesn’t like it, he can run for the board or for mayor. Except he can’t, because he lives in Herculaneum and sits on the board there.

This whole resignation threat seems like a drama llama move (I can confirm that as of Wednesday he is still on the job). At the subsequent board meeting, he sat in the audience instead of at the dais. He also invited a few dozen of his government buddies – city council members, city administrators, emergency personnel from the area – to come to the meeting “to support him.” It sounds like he’s trying to make a power play – force the board to give him a victory in this little showdown to improve his position for future battles. His resignation is the ultimatum he is using to force the board’s hand.

Alderman Shelley indicated that it is fine with him if Thomas leaves. Conversely, Alderman Don Menkhus wants him to stay. It is a safe bet Thomas will stay. He already gave up one cushy government position – small town police chief lieutenant – for this one. If he quits as administrator, he would have no fallback (until the Herky admin job opens up). So he’ll stick around. The board should call his bluff.

A related event happened back in October. Alderman Carol Moore resigned, in part because of health, in part because he felt his ideas were being ignored, and in part because of complaints lodged against him by some street department workers. The October 18, 2012 Leader says he visited a job site to show his great-grandson the trucks, and he and the workers “volleyed comments back and forth.” He said it was friendly banter, they said it was something else, and complained to the city. Where else have we heard of city employees being overly sensitive and making complaints about city councilmen? That’s right, Arnold.

Believe me, Pevely, if there is a city you do not want to emulate, it is Arnold. Unless you are a city employee.

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One Response to “Pevely Looking a Lot Like Arnold”

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  1. Sad Day in Pevely | Jefferson County Penknife - April 12, 2013

    […] administrator Terry Thomas. Recall that, immediately upon being hired, Thomas pulled a “threaten-to-resign” stunt. I believe this was a bureaucratic knife-fighting type of effort to wrest more power […]

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