Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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March 26th, 2010

Beware of motives behind Fanslau evaluation

The group of legislators behind the attempted coup to overthrow Chairman Jonathan Rouis is at it again, this time they are out to get County Manager David Fanslau.
Last week one of those legislators asked County Commissioners to fill out a performance evaluation of Fanslau.

Although the desire to assess Fanslau’s job performance sounds admirable and should be applauded, don’t be fooled. This was not a fact finding mission. They want Fanslau fired. Some of these members have been saying that privately for several months.

To avoid the debacle and fallout from the way former County Manager Dan Briggs was fired, these legislators want to give the appearance they are genuine and have no hidden agenda.

There is one major problem. Sullivan County’s Charter clearly states that the Executive Committee of the legislature performs an evaluation of the County Manager. The Executive Committee has not voted to assign its evaluation responsibility and has not authorized the distribution of evaluation forms.

Informed sources tell me not once did legislators bring up any concerns they had with Fanslau in the Personnel or Executive Committee or ask to go into Executive Session to discuss them.

If there was a request made to the Executive Committee to take such actions and it was refused for unjustifiable reasons, then the desire to circumvent the entire legislature and solicit commissioners might have been warranted.

It is no secret people are unhappy with Fanslau. After all, he is the person with the dirty responsibility of continually delivering the bad news to us of budget cuts, tax increases, and everything else that is wrong with Sullivan County.

We all tend to forget that he takes his marching orders from the legislature.

No one is saying there are no issues at hand. I am certain all legislators would welcome the concept of sitting down with commissioners and department heads to get a clearer understanding of their opinions of Fanslau.

Of course, evaluations when done properly and are in good spirit can lead to guidance and improvements. But, to embark on a witch-hunt against Fanslau during our time of crises could only backfire in our faces and further bring conflict and disarray.

David Fanslau is a professional with dynamic skills, unfortunately he cannot act independently and perhaps his one flaw is that he is not politician. Fanslau might lack warmth when dealing with county employees, and he might not know how to massage egos, but this does not mean he is not competently doing his job.
If we take a step back and logically look at all Fanslau is dealing with, one has to come to the conclusion he is doing a remarkable job.

Fanslau is not a County Executive, and unfortunately the buck does not stop with him. If he were our County Executive then he would report to us and we would have the power to evaluate him election time.

Please keep in mind, David Fanslau did not create the landfill and jail catastrophes, nor is he responsible for our high tax rate or waste user fee. He is working diligently to correct our problems, and with that comes pain.

The new majority coalition between Democrats and Republicans has done a remarkable job in just a few short months. For the first time in years our government is bipartisan, open and honest.

If you hear disgruntled legislators speak, it sounds as if they are the rebels and mavericks working to tear down the Berlin Wall, Great Wall of China, or even the Iron Curtain.

Please keep in mind that prior to the failed coup those legislators were not the poster children for good behavior, accountability or transparency. They were not the ones who came up with a Whistle Blower Policy or complete restructuring of the County Ethics Policies.

Voters, taxpayers, and county employees beware of schemes to get Fanslau and further undermine the Rouis administration.

Fanslau has too much on his plate right now to unnecessarily put him through the mill.

Do we need some change in the way Fanslau operates? Yes, there is always room for improvement. Personally, I would like to see him work more closely with County Treasurer Ira Cohen, but that is the furthest from what those plotting against Fanslau would want. Many of them would like to see Cohen disappear as well.

Politics, and more politics, it gets you sick, doesn’t it?

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