Saturday, March 4, 2017

Updated: Questions Arise About Scope of New 'Operations Director' Job

Fairhope, Alabama

Update(5): Council President Burrell commented on the hiring of the new Operations Director:

"The Mayor did take actions on Monday morning prior to the special-called meeting  to process the hiring of Mr. Peterson, which appear to have been completed prior to adopting the resolution.  One could challenge whether or not a person is actually employed prior to their starting date, however, I do not believe the council will challenge this. 

The city council is not circumventing any state laws.  The council is  well within our rights to institute a temporary hiring freeze so that we can evaluate all of our options.  The council does not, and did not question the Mayor's authority to take the actions she took, even though some may have not agreed with it.  The city council, by state statute, does have the authority to appoint certain positions which meet certain requirements."

Update(4): The mayor says the hiring freeze should not apply to the new Operations Director, Richard Peterson:  "The hiring freeze does not apply Richard Peterson because he was given his offer letter, a contractual agreement, on Feb 23rdI believe the hiring freeze that was put in place by council Monday was based on a local law for which legal council also determined its opinion.  The local law, however, should not supersede the state law which states the mayor has the sole authority to hire and fire."

Update(3): The mayor says the seven-page job description applies, with all the duties listed on it (see at bottom):

"Nothing was ever changed with the scope or job description for the Operation Director position. The same procedure for every job opening includes a one-page condensed summary of the job, which is what is posted. It also has a more detailed job description, which is typically a multi-page document." 

Update(2): We just received this from the mayor:

Richard Peterson, P.E., is a Fairhope native and joins the City of Fairhope as the Operations Director. Peterson is a graduate of the University of South Alabama with a degree in Civil Engineering. Peterson has over 30 years’ experience in the utilities industry, 26 of which were with Riviera Utilities in Foley. Since leaving Riviera, Richard has worked with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood on projects across the State of Alabama. At the State level, Richard served on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Natural Gas Association from 2002 through 2015 and as its president in 2014. Richard also participated with the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group on Water Policy by serving on the Local/Regional Planning subcommittee, where recommendations for the structure of the local and regional oversight to water policy were presented.

But, councilman Burrell told us earlier he thought the hiring freeze enacted by the council last Monday applied to this position as wellWe asked the mayor if he will have any duties beyond the utilities: check back for further updates. She did not mention the alleged "factual errors" in our first post.

Update(1): We received a message from the mayor objecting to some of the "facts" in this post; we invited her to explain her version so we could post that as well.

Dec. 1, 2016 Public Announcement


A Times investigative reporter has determined that the announcement (above) for the new position of 'Operations Director' that was posted publicly in early December of last year on the city's bulletin board and website does not entirely match the actual 'uniform job description' on file with the HR Department. (see below).

The single-page posted announcement, required by federal Equal Opportunity Law and the city's personnel manual, refers only to supervision of the Utilities; but the seven-page 'uniform job description' on file references supervision of the IT and and E/M departments as well.

The city currently has an IT department, but no E/M department to our knowledge -- which apparently refers to engineering  and maintenance now under the Public Works department, according to information in the longer document.

Salary ranges and qualifications required are different as well: the announcement calls for a BS degree and/or sufficient, related training/experience; but the full job description allows a BA degree and/or much less experience. Both mention a BE degree as qualifying.

(See the documents for full education/experience/training requirements.)

Apparently only Part II of the job description, 'distinguishing characteristic of the job',  was posted to the public; Part I, 'basic purpose of the position', was omitted for some reason.

The public announcement is dated December 1st; and the actual the job description November 22 of last year.

Former Electric Department superintendent Scot Sligh was initially hired to the job, but resigned suddenly on January 20th  for "personal reasons" -- after only three days on the job -- click.


Nov. 28th work session
After a lengthy general discussion with the mayor of the need for the proposed new OD position to supervise utilities during the November 28, 2016 work session (no specific job description mentioned), the city council approved the OD position/job description at the following council meeting by resolution.

The Times can find no record in their current minutes of the matter ever being discussed by the city's Personnel Board.


BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE CITY OF FAIRHOPE, ALABAMA, that the Compensation and Job Classification Plan along with the Grade Order Sheet be amended and approved to Add the Operations Director Position; the Job Description with stated pay range; and to authorize the use of a City Vehicle. 

No copy of the job description was provided to the public or media nor was it read into the record at the time; only references made about it by council members during the discussion.

No job description appears in the official minutes of the meeting either, as is usually the case; the Times obtained it by a formal public records request. earlier this week.

When asked about it by the Times, Council President Burrell said he was unaware of the discrepancy and had not seen the public announcement until we provided it to him: We have received no further comment from him.

(Burrell told us earlier he did think the hiring freeze imposed by the council last Monday applied to this positions as well.)

Check back here for updates to this developing story.

'Uniform Job Description' dated November, 22, 2016

Page 2 of 7


Anonymous said...

Wow! Pretty sneaky even for this secretive town.

Anonymous said...

It's a retired guy from Riviera. Supposed to start Monday.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps when the Times "investigative reporter" finishes his/her shift at Burger King, he/she will note that the previous job requirements where copied from the old electric superintendent job description. The change tells me they can't find anyone highly qualified who would put up with all the political crap when they could make more money in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

This City has historical issues like never seen before. One day their will be a wall in the museum that is devoted to the Mayor that never was.

Anonymous said...

The mayor is so consumed by Paul Ripp's conspiracies that she is incapable of meeting municipal standards, procedures, and oversight. In other words.... Governing.

Anonymous said...

She ran on TRANSPERANCY, COMMUNICATION, and TRUST, and the CITY'S EMPLOYEES were our biggest asset.

Oh well...

When you run a bookstore that allows you to walk in the children's section with a glass of wine, you are well qualified to be mayor! Good ole wholesome Alabama values, you know, the values that everyone wants to claim by being old Fairhopians.

IF this mayor hired someone during a legal hiring freeze, and it was indeed legal for the council to impose the freeze, she may have crossed a line she doesn't want to cross.

I supported the mayor in the beginning, but her threats, accusations, cronyism is simply wrong, and so unbecoming.

This city has NEVER seen the dysfunction that has taken shape in the past 90 days - we need to hold a vote to move to a council - manager form of government.

Anonymous said...

If the offer letter was given to him on Feb 23, the contract is not bound until that offer was accepted. At that point, the new hire should have been announced to the public (read: transparency). That did not happen until your story ran.

The mayor only accepts facts that are in line with her own compact storytelling. All other facts are checked at the door.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Wilson may not be the brightest bulb in the room but from the comments on here she's far from the dimmest. Sure it’s harder being the mayor of a town like Fairhope with the people you have to deal with, but most of these commenters coundn't run a bookstore either, just their mouths.

Anonymous said...

Haha! This quote below is very one previously SAW or HEARD or KNEW of all the devious cr*p going on. It was hidden in the back rooms, and the public was presented only what the good ol boys wanted them to see and know. As long as things seemed okay, the flowers were pretty and Fairhope got regular awards (self-applied for), no one wanted to question what was REALLY going on. "This city has NEVER seen the dysfunction that has taken shape in the past 90 days - we need to hold a vote to move to a council - manager form of government. "

Thank goodness for this current administration. It may not be pretty, or easy to hear, but it's a necessary cleaning up of years of dysfunction, rule breaking and payback!

Anonymous said...

She needs to read the "How To Be A Mayor For Dummies" book.

Anonymous said...

Does the new director live in Rock Creek too? A lot of them are being hired lately.

Anonymous said...

Some of these comments are truly pathetic.
A new low for the city of Fairhope.

Anonymous said...

People talk about Rock Creek, like it is Mountain Brook, Shoal Creek or some other swanky place. But who else has been hired that lives in there?

Anonymous said...

It is strong council weak mayor already.

Anonymous said...

Rules prevent naming names. She is the leader of the group that opposed the apartments. Based on what I'm hearing she may not be there anymore though...

Anonymous said...

"Thank goodness for this current administration." One must be able to administer before it can be an administration! AND is clearly not pretty, nor is easy to hear either!

From Kant cronyism to Wilson's cronyism, hire a city manager that is free from an election and carries out the laws enacted by the city council.

There are 5 members of the council, so it takes at least 3 to pass an ordinance, the mayor is one person, it just one mayor that makes decisions that are politically motivated to screw things up.

A city manager, that is fully qualified, not a business owner in downtown, has no conflict of interests and hired by a vote of at least 3 of the 5 members, and it decisions made by the manager is not to be reelected or to repay their political friends.

AND no the city manager can not allow a family member to come to meetings that are city officials only.

IF everyone will step back from this, and seriously look at the situation, vote in a city-manager government, make the council 5 to 7 seats, and make the council districts with boundaries. Then the people of Fairhope will be fairly represented. A city manager will work at the pleasure of the council, the council will be duly elected by the voters within their districts and ALL the people of Fairhope will get a fair shake.

Anonymous said...

If Boone & Burrell were not worried about the truth emerging, they would surely try to work with our 'Elected Mayor'! Ever since she won the election those two, with the help of Kant and his minions, have been doing everything in their power to make Karin look incompetent.

I don't know anything about Mosher……I believe that he is the father of one of her childhood friends, and I am sure that she is always polite to him; however, she does not need his input to do her job.

Those of you who blindly 'follow the leader' should shut up and listen for a change. See what will happen to your Fairhope and your Fairhope taxes if we don't allow the facts to come out so that we can deal with the issues. Please keep an open mind……Burrell thinks that Fairhope voters are ignorant and would rather be charmed than educated. Prove him wrong.

Anonymous said...

I think the majority ofl the virulent political opposition to Mayor Wilson is directly tied to her digging into the questionable deals made in the past at the Fairhope airport. There are city council members and airport authority board members that might be in hot water if Mayor Wilson digs out and exposes the deals made on the airport. Some of these folks seem desperate to stop her as soon as possible and that includes calling her crazy, getting the local dim bulbs to recall her, or just being so completely uncooperative that they run her out of office. Anything to preserve the current non transparent status quo and to save their questionable deals from being exposed for all to see.

Lee Kibler said...

Richard Peterson is highly qualified for the position. He and his family are great people who care about the environment and the city. When he worked at Riviera he was respected by all workers in Gas and Water Departments. He was/is an excellent manager that gives his subordinates a chance to use and develop their skills. Utilities are the heart and soul of a community that lie out of sight of the public and are generally taken for granted. I believe that Fairhope should be very happy to have a man of Richard Peterson 's caliber. You would be wise to disconnect the political gamesmanship concerning an inadequacy of your community namely the infrastructure you so dearly need repaired and maintained. Give the man a chance. The problem did not occur overnight. The correction of the issues will be a process that will take years and many millions of tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

It is not about Peterson, it is about how two dedicated, hard working employees were thrown away like pieces of trash.

Anonymous said...

But to whom are they Tim Kant or to the City of Fairhope; there is a difference.

Anonymous said...

Tim Kant is no longer mayor. He has the same power as you and I.

Anonymous said...

money has all the power and those who want Kant back

Anonymous said...

"Ever since she won the election those two, with the help of Kant and his minions, have been doing everything in their power to make Karin look incompetent."

I am not trying to be too critical of the mayor, but the mayor herself has contributed greatly to making herself look incompetent. She is not as articulate as one would think, she does indeed blame others for just about everything and this is not what leaders do.

Leaders lead, they don't make allegations and finger point. She has been handed a healthy balance sheet and if there are infrastructure needs then address it. She needs to stop making allegations that cause harm to volunteer boards members - without these boards the city would not be where it is today.

I have tried to search but have not been able to find any information on this, but has the mayor or her new economic director ever served on a volunteer board for the city of Fairhope?