Our View: Council, Lanning must part ways

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Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008

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  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
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  • Paul Draper, community representative

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It appears the time has come for the Steamboat Springs City Council and the city's top administrator to part ways.

City Manager Alan Lanning's relationship with the City Council has been touch and go since the new council majority was elected last November. That relationship is again at the forefront after the council held Lanning's annual evaluation last week.

After the closed-door evaluation, City Council President Loui Antonucci acknowledged that council members think there are problems with Lanning's management style, and he stopped short of endorsing the two-year city manager:

"At this point in time, I don't know where exactly it's going to go," Antonucci said. "There are a lot of rumors flying around out there."

The council did little to quell those rumors Monday, when Lanning met with Antonucci, City Council President Pro-tem Cari Hermacinski, and City Attorney Tony Lettunich. The stated purpose of the meeting was to prepare for Tuesday's and next week's council meetings, specifically as it relates to Lanning's contract.

Antonucci told the Steamboat Pilot & Today the results of Lanning's recent evaluation "weren't very good," and he and other council members questioned Lanning's health and its role in his performance.

Lanning declined to comment.

At the heart of the disagreement appears to be questions about Lanning's management style and stance on city issues. Hermacinski and Councilman Scott Myller have complained about the manner in which Lanning has handled certain situations, including signage citations given to local Realtors and an audit of the estimates the city uses to determine taxes paid by contractors.

There's also a list of major city issues on which Lanning and the majority of the council don't see eye to eye, including the city's purchase and subsequent use of the Iron Horse Inn and the city's relationship with the Routt County Regional Building Department.

To be fair, Lanning is working with a very different City Council than the one that hired him in July 2006 to replace Paul Hughes. But, like school superintendents, city managers work at the pleasure of the current governing council, and it is their responsibility to carry out the policies and desires of that body.

Lanning has proven to be a decisive leader who's not afraid to make changes - three city department heads have turned over during Lanning's brief tenure. But if he's not willing to adapt to the desires of his current bosses, we can expect only two conclusions: his dismissal or resignation.

The council has every right to hire and fire city managers as it sees fit. It's reasonable to expect our fairly elected council members to put in place a manager who they feel will best carry out their policies.

Judging by comments from council members during the past couple of weeks, that person isn't Lanning. If that's the case, it's in the best interest of the community for both sides to move on.

Comments

shadow 6 years, 5 months ago

Nitro, The new council members were elected because they represented the voters interests. Lanning wasn't elected and isn't acting in the interest of the voters, that's the picture.

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Nitro 6 years, 5 months ago

The majority of the new Council are novices at how a municipal government operates. Lanning has over 20 years of experience in managing city government. Most of the new Council were endorsed, supported and now apparently directed by the development community. What's wrong with this picture?

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Neil O'Keeffe 6 years, 5 months ago

Now that many of those new council members have shown their true colors, I'm sure there will be another changing of the guard when their terms come up. Apparently the City Manager is only asllowed to manage with regard to the special interest of our elected officials that are supposed to be representing the whole community not just a segment. It's a delicate highwire act for sure. Believe!

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 5 months ago

Lanning's employment aside, does the Pilot have NO INTEREST in what his audit of project valuations at the building department would show?

If so it would appear that the Pilot has lost interest in the watchdog role of good journalism and settled for the role of offering subjective commentary.

Worse, in skipping the counter argument above of Lanning's possibly productive audit in a time of declining city revenue, your commentary today is conveniently myopic. Your point is served, but the larger public welfare (possible systemic tax evasion) is ignored.

I know too little to defend Lanning, but this lazy manner of your impact to his career disappoints me greatly. -Steve Lewis

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424now 6 years, 5 months ago

Pilot,

"Hermacinski and Councilman Scott Myller have complained"

"city managers work at the pleasure of the current governing council"

"if he's not willing to adapt to the desires of his current bosses, we can expect only two conclusions: his dismissal or resignation"

Why have we not heard from the rest of the city council? Why have we not heard from Alan Lanning? Where is the depth of investigation?

But hey, Great way to rubber stamp Hermacinski and Myller's opinion.

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another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

424, the reason we have not heard from Lanning has been stated in each story about him: "Lanning declined to comment"

Regarding other members, there have been quotes and comments from several of the council members over the last week or two. Even this story contains input from more than the two you mention.

Lewi, ask around about how the tax audits are being conducted. They are time consuming harrasment of businesses which continue even after the initial rewiew of numbers shows no issues. It is not the fact of the audits, but rather the approach taken and pointless detail which make them a problem. These are not, for the most part, productive audits.

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rujokn 6 years, 5 months ago

Lanning recently told members of a Council appointed committee that he had "no intention" of listening to anything that group advised to himself or Council on the subject they were enlisted to provide expertise.

This is not the only time he had said and done things that are outside the power that is bestowed upon the City Manager. These types of actions and quotes have been in the paper for some time:

http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20... http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20... http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20... http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20... http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20...

At this point, he is never going to act accordingly.

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SilverSpoon 6 years, 5 months ago

"signage citations given to local Realtors" Just wait til the realestate bubble pops here in steamboat, then maybe we can have 3000 realtor signs blanketing the valley.
How do people make money in steamboat? 1000 realtors 900 teachers 800 cmc students ???? service industry ????? contractors/laborers ??? city employees

When realestate crashes, I know 1000 and ????? people who will be hard pressed to make ends meet. Even the ??? city employees may be cut to pay for the iron horse?

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2007 6 years, 5 months ago

Steamboat Pilot: can you give a little more background re:"complained about the manner in which Lanning has handled certain situations, including signage citations given to local Realtors" .
-What are the current signage rules?
-What kinds of violations are being given citations?
-Are all Realtors getting citations or only a few? And if only a few is that due to favoritism or because only a handful are breaking the law?

Instead of reporting a lot of gossip and hearsay, how about providing some background and some facts once in a while so readers can become better informed and form their own opinions on issues?

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justathought 6 years, 5 months ago

If you really want all those facts, go to the source. Open records act says you if request it from the town you will get it. That way you don't have to rely on the paper reporting "a lot of gossip and hearsay", you'll have the facts.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 3 months ago

Above, on July 9, I didn't know enough to defend Lanning. But today, Sept 18 we understand this Use Tax audit that Lanning set in motion will net the City millions. Roughly, by the time he had cleared out his desk at City Hall, Lanning's audit had already targeted $4 million plus in tax reconciliations to the City.

Safe to say Alan, history will be a kinder judge of your role at Steamboat's helm. Thanks.

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