I am writing to express the great disappointment I feel for the shameful way South Portland treated some well-respected, long-time employees who were known for exemplary service in their departments. For me, this whole sorry event raises questions about the personal integrity, accountability and plain common sense of our civic leaders. Those responsible for this action also imposed their shoddy values on the entire community.
City Manager Jim Gailey admitted that the shabby way the dismissals were handled went against everything he believes in, yet he abandoned his conscience and carried out the hired lawyer¹s orders. There was no opportunity for public input or internal discussion or creative problem-solving, and the decisions were made without input from councilors or employees of the affected departments. And if the goal was to continue seamless delivery of services, operations is a very peculiar place to make cuts; the ops people are the front line Gailey claims he was attempting to maintain.
Deb Smith, Dave Gaudet and Reta Nappi were effective and dedicated city servants who deserved far better.
I commend Councilor Jim Soule for requesting exit interviews, however belated, and for questioning the fiscal fallout from this debacle. I hope his won¹t be the lone council voice insisting on accountability and transparency.
Gailey, Mayor Blake, their legal counsel, the City Council and any department heads involved have a lot to answer for if they want to regain their credibility as civic leaders.