Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008
- Bryna Larsen, publisher
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Eric Morris, community representative
- 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.