Morrison administrator reappointed
Council shows little enthusiasm for official
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MORRISON – Mayor Roger Drey reappointed the city administrator Tuesday night – a decision that received few ringing endorsements.
The eight-member council met for 11/2 hours behind closed doors to discuss City Administrator Jim Wise’s contract.
Afterward, Drey said he read the council members’ evaluations and heard their input before making his decision. He extended the contract by a year.
Wise said before the meeting that he didn’t ask for an increase to his $75,000 salary.
After the meeting, council members Leo Sullivan, Michael Blean and Ron Kallemeyn declined to comment on whether they supported the mayor’s decision.
Alderwoman Sarah Thorndike said she backed Drey’s action because “I support the mayor.”
Asked for her assessment of Wise’s performance, Thorndike declined to comment.
“That’s not my place. That’s the mayor’s place,” she said.
Alderman David Rose said he supported Drey’s decision. He acknowledged complaints about Wise, but he said the administrator has gotten Morrison out of a bad financial situation.
“There have been bumps in the road. That’s been obvious. Read the paper,” Rose said.
But he said he didn’t think the city should change horses midstream “while the horse is bucking.”
“There was a lot of discussion” in closed session, he said.
The day before the meeting, Alderwoman Marti Wood, who has publicly clashed with Wise, said she opposed extending the contract.
Alderwoman Pat Zuidema said Wise has done a “pretty good” job, although she acknowledged bumping heads with the administrator a couple of times.
Under the contract, the mayor has the right to reappoint Wise.
City Attorney Tim Zollinger said a two-thirds council majority could abolish the position and create it again as a way to override the mayor’s decision.
During his first year, Wise has drawn his share of critics, who have become increasingly vocal.
During a council meeting last week, Morrison resident Nancy Andersen complained that Wise had been treating the newer council members as “peons.”
At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, another resident, Brent Shadle, urged the city to end its relationship with Wise.
Shadle, who opposed Wise’s plan for a bike path in front of Shadle’s home, said the administrator has shown disrespect for residents.
“This is not the Army. This is the small town of Morrison,” he said, referring to Wise’s experience in the military, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
“He goes behind people’s backs. [The city] should be open and inviting to all people,” Shadle said.
In recent months, council members have questioned Wise’s budget proposals, especially his requests for the city to go into debt.
His proposal to start charging nonprofit groups to use the library’s community room received so much opposition that he finally pulled the idea.
Wise is also a big supporter of the city’s historic district, although many residents criticize the way it was created years ago.
The city administrator’s position was vacant for 7 months before Wise took the helm last June.
The last administrator, Tim Long, left in October 2010 after reaching an agreement with the council for his exit.
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