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August 19, 2014

Real clerks of Belleville

Belleville City Hall felt a little like reality television on Monday, with alliances, political intrigue and a call to the police. And like reality TV, you know the players were trying to wring all the emotion they could from the situation.

Belleville City Clerk Dallas Cook appointed an assistant, Michael Hagberg. The eager beaver shows up for work early, doesn't find the boss in the office and mayhem ensues.

Police are called, but are not given a clear indication of the problem and respond as if an intruder were posing an unknown threat at City Hall. The finger pointing and calls for investigations follow.

All of this could have been avoided had Cook followed Rule No. 1 for government hiring: Advertise job openings.

Cook ran against the very cronyism that appointing someone to a job entails. While he says the city ordinances say he can appoint someone, that doesn't mean he should.

We expect government leaders to be open, honest and transparent. We know governments, like businesses, have processes in place for hiring folks -- from drug tests through final approvals.

Had Cook followed the established procedures, a routine hire could have been made and none of the calls to police or calls for independent inquiries would have followed.

All of which makes you wonder whether drama was the point all along.

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