Could it finally be over? Fairmont needs it to be

Fairmont’s local government nightmare may be concluding. That is Mayor Deb Foster’s hope and ours as well. The mayor said this week it is her understanding that a majority of council members are no longer targeting city administrator Mike Humpal for suspension or dismissal. If that is true, there may be an opportunity for the council to return its focus to something constructive. To many things constructive.

Since early April, the council has been consumed by a scapegoating effort aimed first at City Attorney Libby Bloomquist and then at Humpal. A trio of council members (Tom Hawkins, Randy Lubenow and Ruth Cyphers) suddenly found fault with these two professionals. Bloomquist served the city for 30 years; Humpal has served it for 24. But all the other councils who gave them solid reviews were wrong. All the city staffers who praised their work and leadership were deluded. Right.

The public soon caught on. Citizens were able to recognize that whatever problems Fairmont has, no one person is to blame, and no one person can solve them. At a time when teamwork and consensus-building are needed to address our city’s issues, instead we got a witchhunt. A destructive diversion from where we needed to be going, off along some dark path of ignorance and untruths.

We hope it’s over. The proof may very well come at Monday’s council meeting. And it may come in a strange way: if nothing happens related to personnel. If that is the case, then the council will not be able to move forward easily, but it will be able to move on. The whole city — minus a few malcontents — would welcome such a change. Let’s hope for the best.

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