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home : editorial : editorial May 29, 2016

4/9/2013 1:40:00 PM
Moving past the mess

The departure of longtime city manager Eileen Stein has been a messy - and expensive - affair.

Two city councilors are outraged at their effective exclusion from an important decision, and they have been out in the community making their dissatisfaction amply clear.

At the same time, the three councilors who voted to accept Stein's resignation believe themselves constrained by the legal terms of the separation agreement with the former city manager from explaining to the citizens of Sisters why they believe it was worth nearly $100,000 in severance to see Stein depart, when her contract required less than half of that.

The fallout from the Stein resignation has further poisoned council relations that have been toxic for well over a year. There is a profound lack of trust between and among councilors. That must be overcome if the city is to function moving forward.

The council remained divided on Monday in its selection of a "limited-duration" city manager.

Sisters needs and deserves dynamic leadership. We must find a permanent city manager who has strong leadership qualities in addition to the requisite municipal management capabilities, one who will create a culture of service of the kind that is exemplified in so many of Sisters' agencies and non-profits.

To find that person, the city councilors are going to have to step back from their personal animosities and find a way to work together. The strongest, most dynamic and self-confident leader is going to have to think long and hard about working for a city council as fractured as this one.

Given the events of the past 15 months and more, either keeping Stein in the position or showing her the door was bound to be contentious and messy. She has resigned and that chapter is closed. Sisters' city government has an opportunity to come out of all of this a stronger organization. But it is up to the city councilors - all five of them - to determine whether that happens, or whether the mess just gets worse.

Jim Cornelius, Editor

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