Oskaloosa mayor expresses frustration with council
Council votes 3-2 to keep Hayes and Hayes law firm
by Dennis Sharkey
Oskaloosa Mayor Mike Paavola is frustrated with his fellow city leaders because of indecisiveness.
Paavola’s comments came during the council’s meeting last Thursday, May 3, during annual appointments to city offices.
Most council members were not ready to move forward with the appointments and wanted more time and information.
Some had questions about contracts and others were concerned that there are no other choices.
The city ordinance states that the Mayor appoints a person to a position. The council then votes to approve or disapprove of the appointment. If they disapprove the council has 45 days to present another candidate.
“If we have other options don’t we have a right to look at those?” Councilwoman Kathy Griffin questioned.
“Prior to this meeting you did,” Paavola responded.
“There’s no time after today? This is it?” she asked. “It doesn’t sound like you have any rights at all. Why even have a meeting?”
Councilman Gary Bryant said the process is backward. He said he would like to see a contract from the positions that require one before making the appointment.
“I guess I’m kind of uncomfortable saying this is okay but then look at the contract and say this is not okay,” Bryant said. “I hate to be obtuse but it seems to me we’re doing it backwards.”
When the discussion reached the appointment of Hayes and Hayes Law Firm as the city attorney the meeting shifted to a different mode.
“Is it legal to go to executive session to ask questions about the law firm and what it represents?” Councilman Dale Mooney asked.
The council went into closed session with Mike Hayes for 15 minutes.
After the closed meeting Bryant again said he wanted to see a contract before moving forward. That prompted Paavola’s comments.
“This is embarrassing,” Paavola said about council members not wanting to move forward. “This should have all been done months ago.”
Griffin was upset by Paavola’s comments. She said most of the people sitting on the council were appointed in the last year and are still learning.
“No manual came with this job,” Griffin said. “We didn’t know there were appointments until the last meeting. I was asking about it.”
“It’s the guilt of the people already serving for not enlightening the folks to what’s going on,” Norman said.
“It’s not an embarrassment,” Griffin said. “It’s knowledge.”
Paavola said not knowing is not an excuse. He said the Kansas League of Municipalities provides information that is available at City Hall.
“It may not be for you but it is for me,” Paavola said. “If you want to run for council and sit on here then you need to know what you signed yourself up for.”
“I remember a time when there was hardly anybody sitting at these desks,” Griffin responded. “We’re here. We’re trying. We’re asking questions.”
Griffin and Norman opposed the appointment of Hayes and Hayes. Malsbury, Bryant and Mooney voted in favor of the appointment.
When Paavola got to the appointments of Rick Jones as Police Chief and Dennis Reiling as municipal court judge more frustration was expressed.
“Are there any other options? There’s one name on the list,” Mooney said. “You’re kind of backed into a corner.”
Mooney said he wants to see a full-time police chief. Paavola said that will have to wait until next budget year. Mooney and other council members said they would like to see the position opened up for people to apply if it moves to full-time.
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