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City administrator overcomes removal bid

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Posted: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 12:00 pm

Bandera City Administrator Linda Coones’ management skills were harshly criticized on Monday, Dec. 4, by two City Council members, including one who felt her shortcomings warranted removal from office, at least partially.

Coones, the city administrator since last March, disputed the criticism and drew enough support from the remaining council members – Rebeca Gibson, Lynn Palmer and Justin Knight – to avoid a showdown vote on her continued employment.

Still, the criticism from Council Members Toni Kunz and Glenn Clark constituted the clearest expression of dissatisfaction with Coones’ job performance to date.  Dissatisfaction had been suspected since council has regularly taken up performance evaluations of the city administrator over the last four months, but rarely had it flashed out into public view until Monday.

It could have stayed hidden longer had Coones decided against holding Monday’s assessment in closed session, where the reviews typically had been held, and called for an airing in open session.

Kunz levelled the most criticism at Coones, though she also acknowledged that the administrator had made positive contributions to the city in its handling of water and wastewater system woes and of financial matters.

Kunz made a motion that Coones be removed from her office for incompetence, while leaving the door open to hiring Coones by contract to manage water system repairs and to oversee financial issues.

That motion died for a lack of a second from another council member.

Clark did second a motion by Kunz to delay the motion to remove Coones until the city attorney could review legal issues surrounding the vote, but that motion failed after no one other than Clark and Kunz supported it.

Criticism of Coones focused primarily on the management of the city’s Public Works Department, a highly visible department which has been without a full-time director for more than a year.

“It’s not a personal vendetta,” said Kunz. “We’ve dealt with a lack of management for quite some time.  She’s great in some areas, but in administration, she’s not been able to get done what we need done.”

Clark’s criticism was blunter.  He said Coones had “absolutely no management skills” and that a Public Works Department that was in bad shape when the administrator got here has “gotten worse.”

Coones disagreed with his and Kunz’ criticism, disputed claims that she had not followed through on disciplinary matters involving public works staff and contended she had tried in a variety of ways to find a qualified individual to recommend as the head of public works without success.

The primary roadblocks to finding a competent public works chief, Coones said, was the reputation Bandera’s council had for interfering in personnel matters and the low pay that was being offered for the post.

Councilwomen Palmer and Gibson defended Coones, saying she was doing a good job and had brought improvement to city operations.   

Kunz told the administrator after the meeting that she would not carry any grudges after Monday’s deliberations and that she hoped to see more follow through from the administrator on council directives.

Coones said that she still felt good about her relationship with council and believed she could address problems in public works if she gets the chance to.

Council considered the option of hiring an interim public works director through a placement agency on Monday but took no action until it takes a closer look at what’s being done to hire a permanent director.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Palmer, Gibson and Councilwoman Christine Morse were sworn in to council by Municipal Judge Mike Towers after the results of the Nov. 7 election that put those three in office were canvassed.

Gibson also was reappointed as mayor pro tem for a second term.

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1 comment:

  • TexasProud posted at 8:05 pm on Sat, Dec 9, 2017.

    TexasProud Posts: 1

    You have to wonder if the problem isn't with Bandera Mayor and Council. How many staff have they run through/off in a short span of a just a few years? Not one or two but several - more then a small city should for sure. Are they asking too much of their employees and unrealistic expectations? Sounds like they want a Jack/Jill of trades. While most cities, including small ones have different staff people for particular jobs, it sounds like they want one person to do it all - public works, finance, water system, etc. Don't sound fair to me. At this rate, no one is going to want to work for the City and if they do make sure to get a good severance package because it won't last long.

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