Things have seemed relatively quiet at City Hall lately. There have been no well-publicized shouting matches between the mayor and an alderman.
No alderman has become outraged about procedure, protocol or the opinion of citizens, and none has left a public meeting before the city's business was completed.
Yet, in the midst of all the apparent calm emanating from City Hall, something happened recently that has to make one ask: "Has Herzonner Dougherty away with something, or not?" Or, "Is she simply up to her same old mode of operation when it comes to getting her way and only her way?"
The matter in question is the elevation of Eva Rosvold, formerly executive assistant to the mayor, to the position of "director of administration."
Seems Ms. Rosvold is now a director who oversees the capital improvements project manager, the facilities manager and the mayor's administrative staff.
The problem arises in that a "director" position can only come about with the approval of the vote of the board of aldermen and, as of yet, that has not occurred.
In section 2-3 of the Code of the City entitled "Appointment of officers generally," it reads: "The mayor shall make his annual appointments of officers of the city on or before the thirtieth day of January. He may, however, make appointments and fill vacancies at any other time that occasion may require. The appointment of all officers shall be subject to confirmation by the board of aldermen."
In the City Charter, Section 28 that deals with the duties of the mayor, Article C entitled, "Appointment, discharge of officers and employees," reads: "The mayor, with the advice and consent of the board of aldermen, shall appoint the heads of all offices, departments, and agencies of the government of the City of Frederick as established by this Charter or by ordinance of the board of aldermen. All office, department, or agency heads so appointed shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor, but shall be discharged only with the consent of a majority of the board of aldermen."
Additionally in Section 222 under General provisions in the City Charter it reads: "The Board of Aldermen may establish or abolish City departments, offices or agencies in addition to those created by this Charter and may prescribe the functions of all departments, offices and agencies, except that no function assigned by this charter to a particular department, office or agency may be discontinued, or, unless this Charter specifically so provides, assigned to another department."
Three separate sections state that directors cannot be created without the approval of the board of aldermen.
But isn't that what happened in the case of Ms. Rosvold?
This is not a case of replacing someone who left an existing position. That person would have needed also to be approved by the board of aldermen. This is creating an entirely new position.
How did this happen?
The mayor seems to think that, since a raise was approved for Ms. Rosvold in the budget process last spring, a new directorship was approved also or something like that.
It gets confusing as reports have it that while the position was upgraded last July and that the upgrade needs an amendment to the cityís Charter and that while that has not yet happened, Herzonner Dougherty is said to believe that this is "not a life-shattering thing."
Creating a new directorship that requires the advice and consent and a vote by the board of aldermen that has not occurred, while going ahead and giving a person that position and the raise involved with it, seems to be a bit bigger than a brush off claiming it isn't life-shattering.
While it may not be "life-shattering," as no one will die as a result of this action, it appears to circumvent those steps the Charter requires, only to achieve the end result Herzonner desires, regardless of the precedent it sets and the future ramifications it may hold.
Some might claim that damaging the operational foundation of the way our city government operates, may well be serious enough to be considered "life-shattering," if one believes in following the Charter.
While this is not the first time these tactics have been used, are "we the people" supposed to become complacent and accept that there is not always a need to follow the Charter if its prescribed methodology gets in the way of the ultimate results?
Are we supposed to accept that the ends justify the means?
And that leads to another troubling aspect to this matter and that is the exclusion of the taxpayers in this process.
As there has been no vote on amending the Charter to create this new directorship, there has not yet been an opportunity for the citizens of Frederick to voice their opinion on this matter. Chilling.
And this is open government?
And, not to nit-pick, but why, unlike all other appointed positions whose pay and raises are determined and budgeted by the mayor, does this particular directorship enjoy the privilege of finding itself on the city's classified pay scale ensuring that this director enjoys annual pay raises as do other city employees?
Oh, well, maybe, just maybe itís nothing at all, and all is well with the way this matter was handled and, at some point in someone's vision of government, all things were handled correctly and within the prescribed guidelines of the City Charter.
Can the rest of us be clued into the when, where's and how's, PLEASE?