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Time to hire interim city manager

After using a city credit card for thousands of dollars in personal purchases, Dixon’s director of public works, personnel and engineering should resign. An interim Dixon city manager should be hired. Then, the city should focus strongly on what form of government to adopt after its latest scandal.

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 8:29 p.m. CDT

The city of Dixon has another scandal on its hands.

To us, the way out is crystal clear.

City officials already are thinking about firing Shawn Ortgiesen, who is city engineer as well as director of both public works and personnel.

Officials announced Monday that Ortgiesen used a city credit card during the past 6 years to make personal purchases of $13,521.14. He has repaid $4,890.31; the city is out $8,360.83.

Ortgiesen’s behavior is clearly unacceptable, particularly in the post-Rita Crundwell era as the city struggles to recover from the former comptroller’s $53 million theft.

While the city council may meet later this week in special session to decide on Ortgiesen’s future, Ortgiesen should do the right thing, right now: resign.

Ortgiesen’s ethical lapse compromises his ability to do the job. City residents have every right to question his judgment.

Whatever justification Ortgiesen had for using a city credit card for personal purchases, Dixon must move on.

Who should replace Ortgiesen and his $118,000 salary?

An interim city manager.

Ortgiesen has been called Dixon’s “de facto” city manager, even though he lacks the official education and training.

He clearly took on more responsibilities after Crundwell was fired a year ago.

The time has come for Dixon to replace the unprofessional, undisciplined and unquestioned handling of government functions and finances with accountability, discipline and professionalism.

A trained city manager, brought in on an interim basis, could do just that.

The money is there to pay the salary.

And the need for honesty and professionalism is certainly there.

Why not let Dixonites “test drive” the city manager concept?

After bringing in an interim city manager, the mayor and city council must focus on the future of Dixon city government. We believe the commission form of government has been thoroughly discredited. The credit card scandal lends even greater urgency to a timely study of alternatives. After all, it’s been a year since Rita’s arrest.

The city deserves credit for undertaking the comprehensive survey of city employee spending that snared Ortgiesen.

Now, by their actions, officials must show they have learned something from it.

 

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