The Block Island Times

Featured letter

Aug 05, 2013

To the Editor:

Having attended past events which aroused the island’s ire and sense of injustice, many of us were, once again, never more proud to be a member of the community than when we flocked to Town Hall on Monday night and filled the Council chamber beyond capacity, determined to get to the bottom of the extraordinary and appalling negative evaluation of the Town Manager’s performance of her duties by two members of the Council and their apparent attempt to oust her by implying that they would refuse to renew her contract which expired last December.

Despite attempts by those councilmen, via technicalities, to cloak their evaluations from reaching the light of day, the audience sought, and succeeded in obtaining, a line by line disclosure of the individual evaluations of each member of the Council.

Buttressed by the Town Solicitor’s opinion that the evaluation proceedings could proceed publicly once the Town Manager waived confidentiality, the First Warden held her ground by a gracious but determined stance to stave off the fruitless attempt to exclude the public from the evaluation proceedings.

The evaluations were based on a score of 1 to 5: 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. Of the five members of the council, one gave only 1’s; another, primarily 1.5’s; and the other three, for the most part, anywhere from 3 to 5, separately scoring the performance of each of the Town Manager’s duties and responsibilities.

The two who gave her the lowest marks, did so after only seven months of service on the Council, seemingly setting aside her 13 years of loyal and unblemished service.

In the day-to-day, broad and busy operation and conduct of the town’s nitty-gritty business, the Town Manager is perpetually in the hot seat — sitting on a caldron of urgent decisions, judgments, public relations, negotiations, overseeing town employees, the letting of contracts, interacting with governmental agencies, resolving crises, carrying out council directives and policies, preparing the budget, and performing sundry other duties and responsibilities spelled out in Section 506 of the Home Rule Charter.

Not everyone dealing with her on behalf of the town can be made happy; nor does perfection exist. But that’s not the test: juggling the town’s endless business and getting it done each and every day during 13 years of faithful and unflagging service is what counts.

The realistic recognition of what the job requires and what Nancy Dodge has given to it was unambiguously on display Monday night when a capacity community crowd turned out to show their support and express their gratitude to her for those 13 years.

The way in which this island — this village — periodically comes together as on this occasion, and comes to grips with its inevitable crises so as to ensure that fair play, decency, and justice are done, makes more than a few of us proud to be a part of the community.

Richard Weisbroat

West Side Road

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