Not a laughing matter, but citizens can’t help it

Fairmont’s citizens finally had enough. They turned out in force for the City Council meeting on Monday and gave the reigning majority what they deserved: a scolding and their laughter. Not that the trio’s actions in recent months are less than serious. It’s just when you listen to them try to put a polish on their irrational decision-making, it’s going to prompt sniggers. At the very least.

We hope the trio got the message, but doubt it. Council members Tom Hawkins, Randy Lubenow and Ruth Cyphers do not seem particularly adept at listening, given the way they blunder ahead, smashing up things as they go. They ousted the City Attorney a few weeks back. Now they do not even want one present at meetings. They approved a resolution Monday to remove the requirement in City Code. And proved how wrong they are on the same night.

THREE times the new, interim City Attorney had to advise the council that it would be best if Cyphers did not read into the record a resolution she had prepared concerning city administrator Mike Humpal. Her doing so would have put the city in legal jeopardy, because such personnel matters can lead to nasty lawsuits. Cyphers finally got the picture on the third warning. We hate to think what will happen when the majority says the attorney does not have to show up anymore.

Humpal’s status is not crystal clear, but the trio did not terminate his employment Monday, so that’s something. Kudos to those citizens who spoke up on his behalf. Fairmont would be utterly rudderless without a city administrator and a full-time city attorney. These are the only two positions the council directly oversees; council members cannot give orders to other members of city staff.

Humpal is to be credited for wanting to hang in there with the city despite this year’s onslaught of unreason. We hope this remains the case for him and other city staffers. Calmer waters surely beckon. If staff starts leaving, who would want to come here?