Taxpayers pay for musical chairs

It’s hard to not be a little bitter. To feel a little used. To have “professionals” from the big city come on down to little old Moab and help us deal with our problems, only to have them leave because our style doesn’t fit their lives. To have them leave when they really had no intention of staying. To have them leave after they’ve jacked up salary levels that are beyond prudent budgets and could be spent on more meaningful things than inflated payrolls.

Come on, Moab, can we please not have anymore celebrity managers who think they can do it better than we can, only to have them go on their merry ways after a couple of years putting fancy decals on cars and expanding staffs?

Aside from our soon-to-be-ex-Police Chief Jim Winder, we have outgoing City Manager David Everitt who is a similar case in point. Everitt lived here many years ago, before the national Obama tidal wave. He then went to work at city hall in Salt Lake, and as politics changed, shifted around and was drawn back to Moab to help us recover from the Rebecca Davidson chapter.

That is an era that we can squarely blame on our former mayor and council members, who so ineptly vetted a nightmare employee, in a manner of which we will never fully know the expense. And who we as taxpayers have ended up having to pay for, in personnel musical chairs and in legal defense.

Everitt always made it clear that he wasn’t going to stay. He accepted the title of interim city manager, and he has effectively helped to smooth things over. But we do find ourselves breaking in a new city manager, a man brought here most likely to fill Everitt’s shoes, without any local input.

As for Winder, it’s no one’s fault but our own that we prepped his advent here. The voters of Moab continued to elect a mayor and council who allowed a questionable police force to keep bumbling on when our old chief was out of gas and some of his officers were partying with teenagers.

Here at the newspaper, we’ve noticed that Chief Winder’s heart hasn’t really been into it. We are a weekend playground sort of town. While people vacation here to certain degrees year-round, our weekends are especially busy with special events, races, conventions, festivals and the like. That’s when the working class works hardest here.

We serve our visitors perhaps harder than we serve our own. But he’s been gone a lot. He wasn’t even here when a murder occurred. Further, he hasn’t been able to stop meddling up north with the job he left behind. He doesn’t support his replacement in Salt Lake, Rosie Rivera, and he very publicly campaigned against her during the last election cycle. But she still won.

Winder’s new job at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office will put him back in the spotlight. Much as he’d like to say he’s leaving because of his family – moving back so his daughter can continue her equestrian career and his son can attend a prep school – it looks to still be “The Jim Show” as chief investigator. Let’s just hope the inflated salary that sealed his deal in Moab will be adjusted to something that suits our budget. Because much as City Hall may be reveling in all the sales tax dollars that come its way, our community is hard hit with issues that might be better solved with lower tax burdens on residents.

As Moabites, most of us have tried to be welcoming when new and even temporary leaders come along. But I think we all hope to be served by folks who we can afford and who really want to be here. I would hope that we don’t need outside “experts” who are a flash in a pan that we as residents are all frying in. We need to fill our critical roles with folks who live and breathe Moab, who care for this place for the long run, who want to see us well into the future of our town.