Nevada City opens door to probe
Nevada City took a bold step Wednesday when it released a preliminary report on the investigation of the office of the operations supervisor, which is currently occupied by Cathy Wilcox-Barnes, who also happens to hold the elected position of city clerk.
City Manager Mark Miller has been criticized since deciding to put Wilcox-Barnes on paid administrative leave on April 25.
It has lead to charges that this action is the result of an internal power struggle and that Wilcox-Barnes has been treated unfairly. Some people in Nevada City have gone so far as to demand Miller’s ouster even though they don’t have all the facts, which is somewhat ironic given the city is keeping Wilcox-Barnes on the payroll while it conducts its investigation.
The City Council did authorize the release of the preliminary report that indicates there is more than egos involved here. According to the consultants the city has retained for the investigation, the city has not collected thousands of dollars in business license fees and in water and sewer bills.
The consultants have emphasized that the investigation is ongoing and no one is suggesting that anything illegal has occurred.
Miller has said that the city wants this investigation to be as transparent as possible, which is a difficult chore when it involves personnel. On the other hand, Wilcox-Barnes has stated publicly that she does not know why she is the subject of an investigation.
Now, she and the city’s critics have their answer.
The next question is whether Miller and the city are obligated to determine if the city’s finances are being handled properly when problems come to their attention.
Would Miller be fulfilling his duties if he neglected to look into whether the city’s finances were being managed properly? Is that the sort of leadership Nevada City residents want to see?
The charges, meanwhile, that this is a result of a power struggle seem strange at best. Miller, as the city manager, is in charge of the city’s operations and any employee who would attempt to undermine his authority would find themselves vulnerable if they were in the private or public sector.
Nevada City took the appropriate steps when it decided to look into this matter. It has hired a team of seasoned consultants to conduct a program audit, and the area has been secured to protect the integrity of the investigation.
So rather than try to turn this into a personal matter, the citizens of Nevada City need to step back and let this investigation take its course.
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