Rob Douglas: Rolan's first and last impressions

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— It's true that first impressions count, but last impressions are the ones that folks remember. Steamboat Springs Finance Director Lisa Rolan looked promising as she entered City Hall last March, but she will not be remembered fondly by some as she exits.

As reported by the Steamboat Today, Rolan is leaving after accepting a job Tuesday as the county finance officer in Montgomery County, N.C.

That's fine. Truth be told, Rolan's departure is neither unexpected nor remarkable given her track record.

Rolan has a history of departing on short notice and after a brief tenure - as she did before arriving in the Yampa Valley. As this newspaper has reported, "Rolan left a previous job with the city of Columbia, S.C., under similarly vague circumstances. She resigned - with severance pay - from that city in January after 18 months on the job. In March, Rolan said politics played a big role, but she did not want to be more specific."

Just as politics played a role in Rolan's departure from South Carolina, it appears they did so here, as well. Rolan was hired by former City Manager Alan Lanning and seemed disgruntled since his departure earlier this year. More than once, Rolan bristled during council meetings in response to questions. In an interview with the Montgomery Herald newspaper regarding her new position in North Carolina, Rolan cited Lanning's departure as a reason "it's just not a good fit (in Steamboat) right now."

Rolan's behavior during council meetings and with the public at large demonstrated that her self-assessment that she's "not a good fit" is accurate. She has run the gamut from curt to outright rude in her interactions with elected representatives and significant stakeholders in Steamboat. Whether it was her outburst that she'd cut community support funding to zero when she didn't like the council's direction to further reduce her draft budget or her lack of outreach to those her proposals impacted, Rolan repeatedly flashed a temperament ill-suited to her role in representative democracy.

Finally, Rolan's departure is no surprise as her family has been residing at the taxpayer-subsidized Iron Horse Inn since their arrival. Putting aside the question of why taxpayers are subsidizing one of the highest-paid city officials - with a salary in the $100,000 range and the wherewithal to own and maintain two horses - the fact that Rolan continued to live under circumstances that allowed her to walk away at the drop of a dime was another signal she was a short-timer.

But, while it's no shocker Rolan is headed over Rabbit Ears, it's unfortunate that she chose to depart in a way that tarnished the memories of the promise she once held - most notably her role in pushing the council to consider a more conservative fiscal path.

Rolan played games about whether she accepted other employment - or was going to within moments of resigning - when she tendered her resignation effective Jan. 5 to Interim City Manager Wendy DuBord on Tuesday afternoon. Based on Rolan's denial of other employment, DuBord didn't inform the council of the resignation because she told Rolan she'd hold onto it for 24 hours in case she changed her mind.

It's also unfortunate Rolan continued her charade in front of six of the seven council members when she appeared before them Tuesday evening to discuss the ongoing budget process at a point when her new boss already had announced her hiring in North Carolina. Rolan knew she wouldn't be here to participate in the process she had convinced the council to follow next year in lieu of additional budget cuts now, yet she discussed it anyway. However, it appears Rolan did confide in Councilman Steve Ivancie - the two huddled in a separate room during a break in the meeting. It's worth noting that Ivancie still smolders about the departure of Lanning.

Rolan also deceived readers of this newspaper Wednesday when she stated, "Right now, I don't know what I'm going to do." Did Rolan really believe the paper's reporters wouldn't learn that as she stated those words, the Montgomery Herald in North Carolina already was reporting Rolan would begin work Jan. 12 in an article containing extensive quotes from an interview of her?

Instead of being forthright about her job search and job acceptance, Rolan sought to deceive her co-workers, the council she was hired to serve and the community she briefly called home.

An unfortunate and unnecessary last impression if ever there was one.

To reach Rob Douglas, e-mail Rob.Douglas@Comcast.net

Comments

cityworker 5 years, 4 months ago

High on her horse...literally! Lisa did some good things that had benefit for our community and our staff. The most visable being the use tax that builders in our community have avioded knowingly for years Lisa also did some things that were not so good. Most of you know what they are, Rob discussed some in this article. I am not going to go into any detail.
Don't leave anything behind please! See ya!

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 4 months ago

I have hired many people over the years. Looking afar for employees inevitably ends up in a similar situation to the Rolan case.

I think it wise to look internally or locally for better long term results. On that subject I can remember when a mayor and town board seemed to produce a common sense government that our system lacks. An elected mayor would have an advantage in understanding the community.

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flotilla 5 years, 4 months ago

I am amazed that Rob Douglas continues to stir the pot in these situations while not solving a thing. Seems that instead attacking Lisa's character and her living in city housing (like the iron horse is a palace??) he should try for the root of the problem. Which is becoming clear that this council is an inexperienced tornado. There is obviously a real reason here and perhaps she is more composed than Rob for keeping it to herself instead of defaming their characters (or lack thereof). Mr. Douglas himself wrote months back that fewer people attend council meetings than in Oak Creek... I think he cited the number of 5 attendees to that particular meeting and I don't believe there are lines out the door now. Rob also goes drinking with the other council members at Harwigs on more than few occasions... less Mr. Ivancie. Council members, Rob, are allowed to disagree, and it seems that the present state of affairs since firing the city manager isn't all that great. So why is it is not fair for Ivancie to reference his unhappiness with the decision of Alan Lanning since he thinks he has relevance during these times. Why not see who else on council has "huddled meetings" disguised by closed doors.
I think some of your articles are worthwhile, but some of them are bias and juvenile. Why should you care what I think? Because this paper is supposed to serve the community... and articles like this do not. Plus, slandering an elected official isn't a way to get to the truth.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 4 months ago

Continous turnover at city halll is embarassing. This is like asking the auto industry to right the ship. Proceeding with our past procedures, is chasing good money after bad, we need a total review before going down this road again.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 4 months ago

picker: I'm not pointing the finger at anyone, but in the last thirty years city manager tenures have been brief and undistinguished. There is always optimism at each hiring that we have found the messiah. One common denominator has been that all hires come from outside, mostly out of state. Positions that are filled by the manager invaribly are not local. After thirty years of questionable success I think it time to reevaluate. Councils seem to think that they will be the ones to finally hit a home run, but I am covering all bets.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 4 months ago

And it should be expected that the finance director brought in by the previous city manager leaves. It would really frustrating to be drawing up budgets based upon input from the acting city manager only to get completely different requests when facing the city council. If they city manager and finance director are not working as a team like hand and glove then it would be unpleasant to be the finance director.

And a person with no reasons to stay and is renting is going to find it so easy to leave. She is leaving a higher paying job with city subsidized housing to accept her new job so she either really wanted to return to NC or leave SB.

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