|CORRUPTION ABOUNDS? LR MAYOR DEMANDS MORE STAFF|
|Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola|
Publisher's note: Our esteemed Little Rock City Mayor oddly declares that his workload is so mountainous in our mid-sized southern-fried city.
A bloated city that suffers the corrupt redundancy of a hybridized system of city manager, asst. manager, board AND mayor/asst mayor.
The layers surely abound. Not a sound indication of prudent city management.
Yep, we really need another layer of taxpayer-paid corrupt crony bureaucracy, indeed.
If you can, please take a little bit of your time to read the two currently spotlighted perspectives of this issue upon Corruption Sucks Blog and draw your own informed conclusions.
One viewpoint is from Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times, he points out that, "The mayor currently has an administrative assistant who, as of March, was paid $45,600. Others on the city staff respond to the mayor's needs as necessary.".
The other perspective is from a Little Rock taxpayer/homeowner that has much to say and reveal about this and other citizen concerns.
He believes that many recent actions taken against him by the city are in retaliation in response to him exercising his first amendment rights speaking out against what he believes to be obvious and blatant corruption by Little Rock City government. Done while thumbing their noses at it's citizens because they are well aware that they got both law enforcement and the local media "by the balls".
From my own personal experiences with the city of Little Rock (14 years), I'd have to say that there is a lot of validity to what this guy is saying once you get past his ranting style and his own personal version of "southern charm".
He additionally states that he can prove his corruption allegations, if only given the fair chance to do so.
I certainly intend to afford him such an opportunity. So, please allow me a bit of latitude on this, as I do intend to publish his alleged proof & comments from time to time when I see them fitting and appropriate. E Pluribus Unum.
From the Arkansas Times:
Mayor Stodola demands new staff positions at City Hall
Posted By Max Brantley on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 10:54 AM
The creation of the jobs came after some internal disagreement on titles and Stodola's insistence to City Manager Bruce Moore that the jobs be created according to his specifications.
The mayor currently has an administrative assistant who, as of March, was paid $45,600. Others on the city staff respond to the mayor's needs as necessary.
According to job descriptions, the chief of staff will coordinate the day-to-day operations of the mayor's office, perform research and analysis on a wide range of community and constituent issues, and "provide professional support in coordination and implementation of special programs and initiatives for the mayor's short and long range goals and objectives."
The assistant will provide "administrative, technical and professional support" to include research and data analysis and serve as a liaison to the Mayor's Youth Council This person must have a commercial driver's license.
The chief of staff position was advertised internally — only to the city manager's staff, not the entire city workforce — for three days and there was one applicant, whose name has been sent to the mayor. I am supposed to be provided it under the Freedom of Information Act eventually. The assistant job was advertised and the response period has not closed. UPDATE: The sole applicant is Phyllis Dickerson, a special events coordinator in the city manager's office, who currently makes about $47,000 a year. If chosen, she's apparently in for a whopping pay raise.
In terms of added employment, only the chief of staff will increase allotted positions numerically. Stacey Witherell, the city human resources director, said there was a vacant "management analyst" position that will be converted to the assistant to the mayor position. City manager Bruce Moore, has power under the city's blended manager/mayor system to create a new job without City Board approval, subject to budgetary considerations.
Here are the job descriptions of the two new jobs.
There was internal tension about the creation of the two jobs, based on documents I received under Freedom of Information Act requests. After City Manager Moore forwarded to human resources the mayor's request for new positions, Witherell wrote back saying the job title chief of staff didn't fit with the city's organizational structure.
Her memorandum said a chief of staff title is typically assigned to someone in charge of day to day operations of municipalities. "In our curren structure, the city manager has the operational authority and directs all operations." She suggested some alternate job titles. She also commented:
Here's the full memo from Witherell.
This news didn't sit well with Stodola, who sent a note back to Bruce Moore. He said none of the alternate titles was acceptable. He said he wanted the job identified as he'd requested and at a pay grade comparable to the communications officer or chief services officer position, or made a "999" unclassified position "if that is easier." The job was advertised as chief of staff at grade 999.
Stodola wrote to Moore:
Here's Stodola's full note to Moore.
Stodola was elected to a third four-year term in 2014. A change in government gave the mayor's office veto and appointment power and enabled a big pay raise, to $160,000 a year. But the rule of six — a six-vote majority on the City Board — remains the strongest force in city government. Talk continues in widely divergent political circles about the need for a change in government in Little Rock to a city council form. A variety of politicians might have an interest in challenging Stodola in such a happenstance, if not before.
Stodola is out of town and didn't respond to e-mails for comment. Moore was said to be in meetings all day.
UPDATE: I did receive an e-mail from Stodola, who said he had a "full plate" and needed the assistance. His full response:
LittleRock Citizen Luke Skrable:
Little Rock Taxpayers and Homeowners,
I am sure the majority of the Little Rock Public is unaware of what our Mayor is planning behind the scene and backs of the taxpayers but take a few moments to gain an education and then make your Public Voice heard and understood before it is too late.
Stodola wants chief of staff; one seeks jobLittle Rock Mayor Mark Stodola has requested a chief of staff be hired to assist him with special programs and initiatives, as well as conduct research and handle day-to-day operations of the mayor's office.
The position was advertised internally, only within the city manager's office at City Hall, for three days beginning Oct. 27. One employee applied -- Special Events Coordinator Phyllis Sherrie Dickerson. No hire has been made.
The position was advertised with an entry salary of $60,074 to $92,514.
Dickerson currently makes about $46,800, according to her application. She's worked in her current role for City Manager Bruce Moore for 10 years.
The city also is advertising for an assistant to the mayor. That position is open to external candidates, as well. Applications will be accepted through .
The entry salary for the assistant position is listed at $44,302 to $68,225. The assistant will provide administrative, technical and professional support to the mayor, as well as serve as the liaison for the Mayor's Youth Council.
Stodola said that while both positions have new titles and job descriptions, he is not recommending a change in the number of jobs within city government. The assistant position is a title change from a previous management analyst position. The person who held that job recently resigned.
For the chief-of-staff position, Stodola is recommending that Dickerson be moved from the city manager's office to the mayor's office, leaving Moore with two special events coordinators.
"Over the course of being mayor, I have on occasion used the services of one of the three special projects staff in the city manager's office," Stodola said in an email . "I have observed over time that in my opinion, at least in part, they are not fully utilized. Hence, I have suggested that rather than add staff, one of the positions should be used to fill the mayor's chief of staff position to continue to do special projects for both the mayor and the city manager as the job description so provides, and to provide direct supervision to the staff positions assigned to me."
"This can be done with a very little increase in money," he added.
Moore did not respond to an email asking whether he would follow Stodola's recommendation or replace Dickerson with a new hire if she is given the chief-of-staff position. Moore's assistant said he was out of the office for meetings all day.
At-large City Director Joan Adcock questioned Moore about the chief-of-staff position at night's Board of Directors meeting and asked him to explain what the position is and why it's needed.
Stodola said that the shuffle in job titles and duties would eliminate "dysfunction" that is taking place now. He said a projects manager assigned to him is reporting to the assistant city manager, and the secretary assigned to him is reporting to the city clerk. Stodola would keep his secretary, who answers calls and handles scheduling, even with the two new positions.
The city's Human Resources Department initially objected to the creation of a mayor's chief-of-staff position.
In an memorandum to Stodola, Human Resources Director Stacey Witherell suggested that the position have a different name, such as office administrator or administrative manager.
In reply to that memo, Stodola sent an email to Moore on Oct. 14, saying the suggestions were not acceptable. He noted that the position of chief of staff for a mayor is common in other cities that have a city manager form of government, where the mayor's executive authority is increased. Unlike most mayors in such cities, Stodola has veto power.
"I want the position identified as I requested and a salary grade that is comparable to our Communications or Chief Service Officer positions," Stodola wrote.
"Bruce, we have always worked pretty well together the past 8+ years and while you might prefer something different, I really want and need this to happen and would like it to happen with your cooperation," Stodola said later in the email. "Ordinance 19,761 identifies the mayor as the chief executive officer of the city and it also increases the executive authority of the mayor including a directive that all powers and duties of the city manager shall be performed at the direction of the mayor.
"Thank you for your consideration. Please let me know if you have any questions, otherwise I need these 2 positions in place by November 1st," the email says.
Asked when hiring decisions would be made for the two positions, Stodola said by phone that he planned to make recommendations after the close of the application deadline for the assistant-to-the-mayor job.
Witherell, the Human Resources director, said in regard to the chief-of-staff position that it is common to advertise promotional opportunities only within the city or a certain department.
Dickerson submitted a 10-page application and resume package for the chief-of-staff position.
She has a master's degree in arts with a concentration in human resource development from Webster University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Central Arkansas.
Dickerson began working for the city in 2005.
From 2010 to 2014, she also occasionally took assignments on an as-needed basis from first lady Michelle Obama, according to her application package. Dickerson worked as a site advance staff member, meaning she prepared sites the first lady would visit and worked with the media and special attendees.
If selected as the mayor's chief of staff, her essential job duty would be to establish short- and long-term objectives for the mayor's programs and initiatives, as well as develop action plans to support issues of concern to the mayor.
"I believe this will improve follow through on a variety of matters, and direct accountability. [The chief-of-staff position] is common in many city manager styled cities where the mayor is full-time and has increased executive authority. I believe this should be viewed a just part of the evolutionary process," Stodola said by email.
Metro on 11/06/2015
What the reporter of this article did not include in her report is Phyllis Dickerson, the only city employee that applied for the Chief of Staff position is the daughter of another Ms. Dickerson who was a favorite of City Manager, Bruce T. Moore's office and is just riding on the "Nepotism, Cronyism, Favoritism and Rascalism" coattails that Little Rock City Hall is historically noted for. A past disgruntled office administrator in Moore's Office informed me that when these 3 day internal job placement ads go out that the fix is in and that Moore's office has already hired, as in this case, the single applicant. Thought Phyllis Dickerson has not officially been assigned her new position of Chief of Staff as of this writing, but it is a no brainer, one applicant applies, that applicant is hired. Besides the obvious issues from the "Nepotism, Cronyism, Favoritism and Rascalism", I have heard from multiple sources that Ms. Dickerson is not qualified for a position of this caliber.
My personal concerns with this position being created and filled with possibly a favored city employee is the cost to the Little Rock Taxpayers in light of the city manager operating currently with 185 vacant positions. Every time Sara Lenehan's "Vacancy Savings" bi-weekly report comes out that is a quantitative endorsement for the elected mayor and Board of Directors to remove City Manager, Bruce T. Moore for Incompetence in managing our tax contributions and city. Of course in Little Rock the city manager is the Dog and the elected tax stewards are the Tail. So creating a new position when 185 positions, that are sorely needed unfilled" is in my eyes ample example of tax mismanagement in the interest of the existence of "Prudent Tax Management" that is required by law.