The abrupt resignation of Joseph City Administrator Larry Braden late last week comes as a shocking blow to the city at a time when the city government needs an administrator on board — budget season.
What is more concerning though, is the alleged harassment cited by Braden in his resignation letter, which was read at an emergency City Council meeting Friday, April 16.
Given the council will have an investigation done by city attorney Wyatt Baum, we at the Chieftain feel any words written here need to be used cautiously so as to not give a view of pointing fingers or taking sides, nor to in any way impact the investigation.
That said, this is a situation that needs commented on.
The allegations should be taken seriously, and we are sure the investigation into them will be thorough. The call to investigate is absolutely correct.
Prior to his resignation letter, Braden cited problems he was having performing his job, as it seemed there was confusion over his role as the city administrator. He claimed the city was not in compliance with the charter, and in the April 1 meeting said doing his job in a functional way was “impossible.”
Regardless of the legitimacy of this complaint, the Chieftain does recommend every person on the council re-read the city charter and know what not only their own role in the city is, but the roles of everyone in the city government. Then follow them.
Reading and knowing the charter leaves those on the council without excuse in the future. If this were to happen again, nobody would be able to plead ignorance, and anyone doing so would have to be carefully looked at.
But that’s only a suggestion for the future. What about in the present?
Mayor Belinda Buswell is right to recommend an all-hands-on-deck approach to getting the budget done, as it will be a much more daunting task to undertake with Braden gone.
Councilwoman Lisa Collier is also right to recommend the council members stay clear of the inner workings of City Hall — even during this budget season. The desire to help is noble, but even a simple allegation that someone on the council is causing problems is enough to warrant a judicious step like this. It would smell very fishy if an individual insisted on helping in this instance.
The investigation needs time to play out, as well. And if, as Braden has alleged, his job was being hindered — especially intentionally — and he was being harassed by a member of the council, at the very least, that council member should follow in Braden’s footsteps — and submit their resignation letter.