Janesville55.8°

Former councilman asks council to step up

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
April 3, 2008
— K. Andreah Briarmoon and Billy McCoy, chronic complainers about City Manager Steve Sheiffer, were at it again Wednesday, and resident Ed Pulliam apparently had enough.

“One of the things I’m proudest of in my service in city government over the years since I’ve been in Janesville is being involved in hiring Steve Sheiffer,” Pulliam said.


The three were gathered at a session scheduled so members of the public could suggest attributes they’d like to see in a city manager.


Sheiffer will retire in fall, and the council hired a recruiter who was polling the public on the future issues facing a new manager.


Briarmoon and McCoy monopolized the conversation with negative comments about Sheiffer.


At one point, Briarmoon called Sheiffer’s salary “sinful,” and she said she hoped the new manager would not be paid as much.


Pulliam, a council member from 1985 to 1991, turned to her.


“I hope we hire the best man or woman that we can get,” he said. “I would guess that person would not come cheap.”


Hiring the best was the goal the last time the city recruited a manager, Pulliam said.


“And the cost that it was going to take to bring that person to Janesville was secondary to getting the right qualifications.”


Sheiffer’s salary is $147,500 a year.


Pulliam said he hopes the new council understands that “part of the negative feedback that (the council will) undoubtedly get about our present situation—our present city manager and personality issues—has evolved over the years from city councils not doing their jobs.


“The city manager is not the spokesman for the city. The city manager is not the policy maker for the city,” he said.


“Our city manager in the last several years has been very out front in being the spokesman for the city. He’s the guy with the picture in the paper. That picture should be of a council president, or members, or the plan commission chairman. And it used to be that way, to a great extent,” Pulliam said.


“My feeling is that the councils in recent years have backed away from that responsibility,” and Sheiffer has become a lightening rod for some in the community.


“I think our present city manager catches a lot of heat for just filling in the void to keep things moving, to keep things getting done,” he said.


“I think that this present council—this newly elected council soon to be seated—has to step up. And when they hire a new city manager, they have to take on the role of being the policy body again.”



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