New city manager? Hello? Anyone?

Published 9:03 am Monday, July 16, 2018

On Dec. 6, 2017 it was announced that Harvey Robinson, a retired city employee, had been named “interim city manager” for the city of Port Arthur. Questions about his qualifications soon started making the rounds, but believing that he would only be in the position for six months before the search would begin for a permanent city manager, many felt we should just wait it out.

The city is now moving into its eighth month with an “interim” in charge. And not a peep has been heard that City Council members have started the process to find a permanent replacement. This is concerning.

It was reported in the The Port Arthur News last week that out of a list of 39 applicants for the position of “Port Arthur police chief,” the list has been reduced to five names.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

So the city council and “interim” city manager are hiring a police chief before it begins the search for a city manager? This seems backwards, unless there are other reasons for handling this way.

In our city hierarchy, the police chief reports to the city manager. The police chief is hired by the city manager. Therefore, shouldn’t the next permanent city manager, who will be working with the new police chief, be in place before the new police chief is hired? And shouldn’t he or she be a part of hiring important members of his leadership team?

We have been contacted numerous times by city employees from all levels of the operation as to the poor morale that is felt throughout City Hall. Every individual that contacted us has asked that we not use his or her names for fear of repercussions, so we will not. But the fact that this fear even needs to be brought up, is a clear indication that something is deeply wrong at 444 Fourth St. in Port Arthur.

Over the past year, citizens of Port Arthur and employees at City Hall have seen their city take huge steps backwards. One employee put it this way: “It’s one-step backward after another, month after month. Something has to change.” The frustration is evident after citizens witnessed much positive movement over the three years prior.

Allowing an “interim” to make important, long-term decisions about policies, procedures and personnel does not seem smart. For if, and when, a new permanent manager is hired, her or she will surely want to make their own changes and hire their own team. A business-minded council would understand that.

Citizens need to make their voice heard. Contact your council member and let them know we need a permanent city manager in place. This has gone on long enough.

Mayor: Derrick Freeman                  409-983-8105

District 1: Raymond Scott Jr.            409-853-6487

District 2: Cal Jones                           409-460-3148

District 3: Thomas Kinlaw III           409-460-3071

District 4: Harold Doucet, Sr.            409-332-9562

Position 7: Charlotte Moses             409-983-8271, 409-332-6081

Position 8: Kaprina Frank                409-983-8268, 409-466-3771

Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News.