Community can take step forward as Council gets down to business drawing up new city administrator contract

For the last week, Dyersville has been a town divided. Citizens took up sides and made emotional arguments. Thankfully, Mayor Al Haas and the Dyersville City Council allowed those arguments to be heard in a constructive forum at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

After hearing a large number of citizens were planning to attend the meeting, it was moved to Beckman Catholic High School, a private school that didn’t have to open its doors to such a forum. Beckman should be commended for doing so.

Had the meeting not been moved, participation would have been limited. Those in attendance had the chance to hear both sides of the proposal and at times loudly questioned the mayor and the Council. While we don’t condone loud outbursts by the gallery, it seemed that both the mayor and most of the council members heard what the vast majority of attendees were trying to say.

The fact that so many community members came together for Monday night’s council meeting shows that the citizens of Dyersville care about what is going on in city politics.

Whether you favor Mick Michel or not, hearing that a city employee was going to be fired without cause should have made you think. We live in an at-will state, which basically means that an employee can be dismissed by their employer for any reason (whether just or not) and without warning. Just because it is the law of the land doesn’t mean that it is right.

Councilman Michael English brought up the fact that the City Council hadn’t been fulfilling the duty of giving yearly performance reviews to Michel, as his contract stipulates. One can only assume that, had those yearly performance reviews been given, things may never have gotten to this point. A little constructive criticism, when given in the correct context, can go a long way.

After years of bickering and division, the lack of a second to the motion tonight was, in effect, finally a decision to work together. After the decision was made, Michel repeatedly told the council, “I want to work with you.” He also said that some of the arguments brought up at the Council meeting were things that he had never heard before. The easiest way to remedy that situation is to abide by what is stipulated in city employees’ contracts. If it states that the employee should receive a review every year, then by all means do it. Take the time to tell someone they are doing something right, and take the time to explain what is going wrong. Communication is the key here.

Many of the points brought up to support Michel were read straight from a previous performance review performed by the previous City Council. If the current Council would take the time to review Michel’s work he would more clearly understand and could change, if necessary, what he is doing to make sure he is performing his job to the best of his abilities.

All in all, Monday’s meeting is one step forward for our community. The evening was a victory for rational thought — for people who determined it is time to try to work together.

Our opinion is the consensus of the Dyersville Commercial editorial board, which includes Beth Lutgen, Sara Millhouse and Mary Ungs-Sogaard.