Press "Enter" to skip to content

1999 was a tough year for public administrators

Brief by Central Staff

Public administration – February 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

One of the best public administrators in the region — Saguache County’s Brad Jones — retired in 1999.

But others didn’t leave of their own choice. After a recall election installed new trustees, the Buena Vista town board fired administrator David Clyne, who’s now suing for wrongful termination.

He offered to settle the suit for $100,000, but the trustees have decided to fight it. And they haven’t replaced Clyne yet — they offered the job to someone from Garfield County, who then had second thoughts and decided not to make the move.

Steve Reese, administrator of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, was put on leave at the end of the year, on account of “personnel issues,” which can mean just about anything, but usually means “an excuse to avoid releasing information to the public because it’s a personnel matter.”

Also losing his job at the end of 1999 was Tom Hale, Chaffee County administrator. Here’s what the commissioners had to say about his performance in a draft of a letter of reference:

“Tom demonstrated the ability to fully grasp a wide range of problems and showed skill at ‘keeping several balls in the air.’ He is a competent administrator and was able to assemble a good staff in the various departments under his control… He has a good ability to research … He showed strong stewardship of Chaffee County’s financial resources….”

It goes on in a similar vein, and inspires a question: If he was that good, why did they fire him?

In our experience, Hale did a good job. But we’ll probably never know why he lost it, since it’s a “personnel matter.”

It seems to us that when a public body acts with public money in the public’s name, then it’s a “public matter,” not a “personnel matter.”