Seems like good time for public to weigh in

Fairmont City Attorney Elizabeth Bloomquist has been on the job for 30 years. That’s a lot of wisdom in the city’s corner. She ably handles a wide variety of responsibilities, assisting every city department with legal questions. She also prosecutes local crimes and basically serves as the city’s human resources expert.

While an issue has erupted among City Council members over whether the city would be better served financially by contracting for legal services, we have not heard any city leader make a case to the public that Bloomquist does not do her job well. If they have an issue with her, they are not speaking out.

Tonight at the City Council meeting, Bloomquist will face her annual job evaluation by the council. Under state law, if she chooses, this can be a hearing that is open to the public. Otherwise, it will be held behind closed doors.

The City Council has direct oversight of the city administrator and City Attorney. Traditionally, following closed-door evaluations of these two leaders, the council has given its conclusions to the public at its next meeting, several weeks later. Those conclusions are required by law. The timing is not. The council could pop back into open session after the evaluation tonight and give its report to an empty council chamber, since the public would have gone home. Any TV audience also would have long since disappeared. The news media waits these things out, though. We think the public has a right to know.

There is another aspect of local City Council meetings worth mentioning, namely the open time at the beginning of meetings for public comments. Councilman Tom Hawkins worked diligently to get the council to reinstitute this practice. We hope his efforts are rewarded. We encourage citizens concerned about apparent discord on the council related to the City Attorney position to attend tonight’s gathering. It begins at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in downtown Fairmont. Some people say they are embarrassed for Fairmont by the actions of some council members. That is so understandable. It would be beneficial, we believe, for the council to hear the public weigh in, on the side of simple fairness and honesty if nothing else.

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