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