For not making any comments about the CaraGate firing/dismissal/job action-whatever it will eventually be called (Cara is resigning to pursue teaching opportunities?) the village sure has been abuzz with gossip. And lest you think this blog is some paradigm of objectivity (and you must not come around here much to think that) I am lapping it up with the rest of the not-quite-hooked-in crowd.
So far, here’s what gossipfact has established about VM Pavlicek and the brouhaha:
- She was a perfectionist.
- She was a meddler.
- Tyrannical dictator.
- Made employees work too hard.
- Improved Village Hall responsiveness to residents.
- In way over her head.
- Very smart.
- Sandack wants his own VM, not BK’s.
- Kept meetings on her agenda.
- Not a leader.
- Attended most commission/committee meetings at least once.
- Grated on council.
- Polite to residents.
- Despised for being a strong woman boss in a ‘mens club’.
- Her way. No “or”.
- Wanted to personally negotiate contracts instead of bidding them out for council approval.
- The wrong person(s) got fired.
- The right person got fired.
- Senior management resented one or more of the above.
To boot, some claim insider knowledge with a wink of the eye. If so, that would be a mistake for VH to not issue any public information, yet leak it off to the side. Not that it hasn’t happened before-face it, it is routine in IL politics, especially Crook County- but most of us here hope for a higher level or ethical self-scrutiny.
I have had quite a bit of interaction with Cara Pavlicek in her time here in DG, probably more than most residents. Here’s how I grade those:
- The Home Rule meetings she held shortly after her arrival. She seemed a bit unsure of the situation, and proceeded cautiously, mostly running out the Village argument in perfunctory fashion. Grade: B
- The infamous Flood Coffee with the Council. She was talking about tax levy, residents were angry about flooding. She trotted out lame responses I had heard over 20 years before. She also fumbled the bus issue. Grade: D
- The veiled threats of arrest if I talked about campaign issues at council meetings. “Oh, no, they were not threats and they were not directed at you.” LOL. My ass. No one else was talking about TIF scalping, budget games, ethics ordinance shortcomings, flooding causes and remedies down on the floor. Just me. Grade: C
- The 40 year old front yard maple. Cut down so a sidewalk could run arrow straight across the front yard easement. Hacked the crap out of my magnolia too, just for having branches within three feet of the sidewalk. The follow up letter from Pavlicek was a classic of bureaucratic condescension. Grade: F
- The C&D issue. The Village was determined to get it wrong at all costs, with zero regard for residents, but over the nine months she started to open up a little. In a key meeting I had with senior management, she ran her meeting, but let me cover my points, and kept the meeting going until I was satisfied we had covered all the ground needed. Grade: F midterm, C final
- Preservation Ordinance. She would not commit the village to any course of action to further a preservation ordinance. Grade D
- Massage Parlors. Not sure where this goes now but maybe back to square one. Grade: B/incomplete
- Chats before/after council meetings. These were completely informal, but usually topic related to something I was working on. She was very polite, usually explained things a bit deeper then during the public meetings, and often suggested where I might seek additional information. Grade: A
I don’t have a ready answer for that. In my job, I have as many as 12 bosses all clamoring for attention and results. Some are good bosses, some are bad. In either case, it is what it is, and you deal with it. If it is a good company and a bad boss, you try and wait them out, if it is a bad company and a bad boss, you bail if you can afford to. In the past Village Managers have left for a variety of reasons, but it usually boils down to not doing what the majority of council wanted. The VM runs the village government, but the council runs the Village Manager. They are supposed to hire/fire, but it gets more complicated than that. A VM digging in their heels and refusing to follow council majority wishes is a VM digging their own grave.
One of the good and bad points (depending on who you talk to) about former Mayor Krajewski is that he got into the line staff and made changes and worked the staff to shape it: a hands on management style. I have no doubt that CP, just in from a little town in Nebraska, having her first chance to run a mid-sized city with a wide variety of needs, was excited at the opportunity, and willing to cooperate and learn from a hands on mayor.
When Krajewski was replaced by Mayor Sandack (a self professed hands off guy), perhaps that guidance suddenly gone did not serve her well. On her own for the first time, perhaps she swung too far in a different direction for the rest of the staff. At that point, they could either start shopping their resumes, or hope for a change.
Her subordinates in Village Hall may have felt themselves in the “good company, bad boss” scenario. They like working here, the pay is good, we do not have “bad problems”, just problems that need attention and funding. A boss who suffocates by micro-managing could really rub some the wrong way, especially the ones who were here first, and got used to maybe a different way of doing things. For them, change was not so good.
We’re coming up on three weeks since she was fired put on administrative leave, and at least six weeks since actions were initiated. Senior management is running day-to-day operations. How about some who’s and what’s. Is Dave Fieldman the Interim Village Manager? Will he be promoted? Is council retaining a search firm for a replacement Village Manager?
It’s time to do something, to say something, to strut a bit of that transparency that all love to talk about. If the village is negotiating the terms of her severance, buying her home, arranging moving expenses, helping her dust up her resume, even just applying liberal doses of lipstick to this pig of a situation, residents do have a right to know what is going on behind the closed door.
Back in the day after Bressler (sp) left it was as if a log jam broke clear; DG went into overdrive fixing the downtown infrastructure and making TIF project deals, ramping up Downtown Management and Chamber of Commerce and setting the stage for creating the EDC. In retrospect, and by association to the events, he seemed to be the point guy holding things up.
Now, as back then, the proof in the pudding will be: do things get better? Will we keep the good of a more receptive, responsive Village Hall? Will VH add into that the good of bidding out proposals and contracts as much as practical? Of keeping things on track and getting things back on schedule? Of being proactive in budgeting and planning for the future needs of the village? Of bringing residents even further into the process of government? Sounds like another scorecard in the making.
And that, until we get something of substance, is that.