Wells splits vote on new hire
What would have been a run-of-the-mill consent item on the Wells City Council agenda last Monday turned into its own heated discussion.
In a final 3-2 vote by the Wells City Council, a full-time street laborer position has been filled. But, not without some debate from the council about the hiring committee’s pick, Chad Klocek.
Both Whitney Harig and David Braun voted against the hiring of Klocek for two different reasons, with Harig almost abstaining from voting all together.
Braun’s opinion stated during the City Council meeting was he felt the full-time position was unnecessary.
“I feel very uncomfortable putting full-time wages and benefits to what seems would be part-time work over the summer. I just cannot get behind paying so much for someone who may wind up mowing all summer,” Braun addressed to the council.
City administrator Robin Leslie and Mayor Ron Gaines reminded Braun that in order to hire any added help at all, the wages and hours would have to be approved by local union standards. The city would not be able to offer a part time position, so the full time position was created.
“Mike (Pyzick, street foreman for the city of Wells) is in dire need of more help, now that he has added duties to his schedule as the foreman of the city. We either will be paying for this street laborer position, or we will wind up paying for all of the overtime Mike receives as he tries to keep up with ongoing work that needs to have done,” said Leslie.
Harig had another opinion of the hiring of Klocek, specifically. She says the committee’s recommendation defies logic when comparing the skills and education the job requires to other candidates that applied for the position, including her husband, Chad Harig.
The city received eight applications for the position, and interviewed four applicants on April 27. One of the applicants was Klocek, two were not identified in the meeting, and the other was Chad Harig.
Harig addressed the council when the topic of the street laborer position was pulled from the consent agenda by his wife. He went to the podium and immediately withdrew his application from the pool of candidates.
“On a personal note, I am appalled not only as a taxpayer but also as a friend of the candidate you have chosen. I am concerned that after six months, you won’t be able to justify this as a position and he will be out of a job,” said Harig.
“Also, it shouldn’t matter if you are related to, babysat, or are a drinking buddy of an applicant. Applicants should be judged on knowledge and experience. I believe the hiring committee was unfair. You may think you have fooled me, and you may think you have fooled yourselves, but you will never fool the city of Wells. Shame on you.”
A small round of applause rose from other members of the public after Harig’s statement.
Then, Whitney Harig addressed her fellow council members. She knew she had a conflict of interest in the matter, but still had concerns about the methods used for hiring.
“I also want it to be clear that I have no knowledge of two out of the four applicants, so I cannot say with certainty who is the most qualified candidate of the four,” said Harig. “But, based on the documented experience and work history of the two applicants I am aware of, I am confident the most qualified person has not been chosen for hire by the committee.”
Harig went on to explain how the hiring process works and felt that one of the candidates had much more education and experience in the fields the job description provided.
The hiring committee consists of the city administrator, the department head, and two City Council members.
After a full interview, each applicant for the position is said to receive a total score between 1 and 100 from each member of the committee.
The four individual scores from each committee member are then added together for a combined total for each final candidate. The candidate with the highest combined total is then recommended for hire by the committee to the council.
It is the usual accepted practice of the City Council to then take the committee’s recommendation, however, the council is not obligated to vote for that recommendation.
Both Steve Burns and John Herman voted for Klocek’s hire, leaving a 2-2 tie between the council members. Mayor Gaines had to break the tie, with his vote going towards hiring Klocek.