Where is the transparency? Where is the respect? In less than six months, the Helena City Commission has been able to weaken Helena's city departments, processes and strategic partnerships, resulting in a culture of distrust by hiring their handpicked city manager to implement their agendas and clean house. We are retired city employees who care about current employees and community groups that we had the honor of serving with in a productive and respectful environment. We retired before the new city manager was hired, and while it may appear we have an “ax to grind,” we simply care about the future of this city and staff. This letter strives to raise awareness and encourage Helena citizens to get involved and stay engaged. The 2019 City Commission election filing deadline is Monday. There are plenty of facts and documentation to support these concerns. However, for the protection of staff, details will not be disclosed in this format.
Where is the community conversation? There appears to be a lack of public process and participation related to recent recommendations and decisions. City advisory boards are “informed” of decisions rather than consulted in a collaborative effort, and their recommendations are ignored. Longstanding and effective partnerships are dismissed and dismantled while priority is given to the rhetoric of entitled special interest groups and disgruntled individuals without any regard to the greater community benefit and other legitimate user groups. Research and you will find that decisions are made outside the framework of city ordinance and that contracts are being awarded without following a competitive process. We are concerned there is a total disregard for city code and legal processes. Is this transparency?
Employee morale is at an all-time low and city staff claim they are working in an increasingly hostile work environment. Some employees claim retaliation and harassment and are disciplined without cause that do not adhere to personnel policies. Why have so many leadership positions retired or resigned recently? Does this sound like a respectful and effective way to manage the city?
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While changes and new approaches are needed, changes should be executed honestly in a professional, collaborative and lawful way to benefit the entire community. Helena deserves better!
Amy Teegarden, retired parks and recreation director
Gery Carpenter, retired community facilities director