Earlier this summer, members of the Wellington Village Council delayed a decision on whether to fire Village Manager Paul Schofield, opting instead to hire a consultant to evaluate issues within the village.
This was an opportunity for an independent view of the situation in Wellington, free from personal or professional bias, and without a stake in the future of the village. What emerged in the consultant’s preliminary findings paints a picture of what we all already knew: communication and trust must be restored before Wellington can move forward.
But that doesn’t make the findings of the consultant insignificant. The report boldly highlighted the key issues that need to be addressed by village officials. The Town-Crier urges council members and staff to use this as an opportunity to face these problems head on. It is what village officials choose to do with the consultant’s findings that will matter in the long term.
The report, though presented as a simple overview of the issues, identified that Wellington has a “fractured council” and “unresolved animosity” from the 2012 election, something that has been evident to residents and community leaders for a long time. Though the atmosphere has been more civil in recent months, the air is not yet clear.
An independent eye is important in establishing that the concerns of the community are not based in favoritism toward one side of the issues or another. If Wellington has been able to agree on anything in the past few years, its that the division of our community needs to come to an end.
Working with a consultant experienced in team building might be the way to do it. By airing grievances and having the opportunity to speak frankly about issues, while under the guidance of an expert in team building, Wellington could see staff and council members working together to repair relationships and rebuild trust.
The consultant recommended workshops for council members and staff. This is a good idea. It gives all involved a chance to sit down and hash out the issues themselves, not tip-toe around the issues while trying to decide village business. And though the report does not address concerns with Schofield directly, staff and council members working to establish trust and a good rapport could very well clear some of the concerns raised in that regard.
It is imperative that all Wellington officials — council members and staff leaders — go into this process with an open mind, willing to collaborate and find common solutions. Though there are many issues to tackle, finding even a bit of common ground could be the first step to continued compromise.