What’s dissatisfying is appalling leadership

On April 15, the five members of the Fairmont City Council agreed they should attain an assessment of whether it would be better for the city to contract for legal services or to continue with in-house counsel. This compromise was put together after two council members — without authority or common sense — approached the City Attorney to tell her they planned to move the city to contract services, thus ending the city’s need for her employment.

Apparently, the “compromise” did not run deep. On Monday, just a week after the deal was reached, three council members — Tom Hawkins, Randy Lubenow and Ruth Cyphers — expressed dissatisfaction with City Attorney Elizabeth Bloomquist’s job performance during her annual review. With this trio representing three of five council members, the larger group decided to work out a separation agreement with Bloomquist, who has served the city well for 30 years.

The “dissatisfaction” comes as a surprise to those who work with Bloomquist. Her fellow city staff members have only the highest praise for her. Her services, which include prosecution and human resources duties, have been a bargain for the city, coming in at about $82 per hour. The city possesses letters from other attorneys who say they would charge anywhere from $150 to $250 per hour, and be far less accessible.

The “dissatisfaction” also comes as a surprise to the general public. No member of the majority trio has done the accountable thing and made a case to citizens for why a change is needed in the City Attorney’s Office. Lubenow has been on the job for a few months. He recently said he barely understands what the City Attorney does. Yet he is dissatisfied? Where will he next aim his destructive ignorance?

We have to say, this entire situation is one of the oddest things we have seen in local politics. With power (majority rule) comes responsibility, but even when majorities act irresponsibly they retain their power. So why not spell out the agenda? Tell people what you are planning and why. Is there some underlying fear or insecurity? Are the plans really that bad?

We suspect Fairmont residents are going to become closely acquainted with the word “dissatisfaction” in coming months as they watch this majority trio perform. It will join the word “embarrassment” as an apt assessment.


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