A detailed report into city turnover is needed

Every time a city department head leaves, a chorus of discontent sings out with claims of a town so dysfunctional that such turnover is inevitable.

Likewise, those in power discredit the claims &

one departure is not linked to the next we are told &

most often completely unwilling to consider that problems within the city's leadership, or perhaps its populace, are indeed pushing good people out the door.

The entire picture looks like a fairly basic connect-the-dots that would form a picture if we drew the lines.

Now that another department head has resigned we return to the script and wonder who or what is driving these folks out?

Our leadership should accept that this is a fair question &

one deserving of an serious answer.

Right now the city is seeking a city attorney, a planning director (for the second time in less than a year) and a public works director. In the past two years it has replaced the aforementioned planning director once, has had three different police chiefs and hired a new city administrator.

Turnover in these high level positions has become constant.

Detractors of the city council blame meddling councilors and political division that our professional city leaders are chased away in search of less vitriolic communities. But none of the departed have come right out and said this is the reason they left. Speculation is rampant.

Personnel issues are exempt from Freedom of Information Act laws. Councilors and staff can choose to shield them from public scrutiny. But they can also, if done properly, release the information to the public.

In this case, a full report is warranted. It is in the community's best interest for the city to make known the problems facing its staff right now, particularly where those problems impact the stability of the entire city government.

Without a doubt, each of the many cases has its own unique twist. Perhaps it is a string of coincidences that has created this merry-go-round of change at the highest levels of city government &

all of which only strengthens the case that a detailed report should be offered to the public, which could quell the maelstrom of criticism each time a leader departs.

These are not insignificant positions we are struggling to fill. They are some of the highest paid jobs in the city, positions of vital importance to the overall leadership and stability of Ashland. When people leave after less than a year, as current planning director David Stalheim announced this week he would do, residents of the city deserve more information.

We can't expect the people leaving to criticize the city in an unprofessional manner. But rumors of wide-spread problems impacting staff morale have circulated for years. The first step of changing a problem is showing the leadership to confront it honestly. We hope our mayor, city councilors and city administrator will take that first step, and make public the issues that have helped create what appears to be a revolving door in City Hall.

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