To the editor:
The Essex County Ways and Means Committee of Mar. 26 was as interesting as it gets. The headline event, as you may have read about in the P-R, was the Essex County Manager, Cliff Donaldson. Again. I attended the meeting and have read the minutes of the meeting, and witnessed a confrontation outside on the steps that Donaldson instigated; a loud confrontation. I have never seen such insubordination from an employee towards the people he works for. If there is a single reason for firing Donaldson, it would be insubordination.
Donaldson called one of his immediate supervisors a liar in a public meeting with 30+ people in the room. Donaldson was asked about what happened during the time of the Valentines Day blizzard, before, during, and after. He quickly became defensive, argumentative, and challenging.
Its clear enough that he dropped the ball on the blizzard. He did not take the lead on an emergency situation and others had to do it. It was absolutely appropriate to question his performance.
An attempt has been made to make it political, but that is weak. It appeared that two Democrats and two Republicans were supporting Donaldson. Their comments were about politics, dirty laundry, and that it should be handled in the back room. The back room handling of the issue would, of course, be illegal.
Its obvious to me that Donaldson enjoys enough blind support, from enough supervisors, that he has no concerns about losing his job. His insubordination doesnt worry him at all. Perhaps Tom Scozzafavas pertinent comment summed it up best when he said, the County Manager.. is accountable to this body , and if we lose sight of that, then we are headed down a slippery slope.
I wouldnt hesitate to fire Donaldson. If not for negligence in the performance of his duties, then certainly for gross insubordination. The supervisors that support Donaldson blindly, with no regard to the issue at hand, are not doing their constituents any favors. Ken Fenimore