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Monday, November 17, 2014

Unanswered E-mails: Manager Allen and Councilman Meadows Croon Duet "That's Life"

Here is the latest play-by-play from city hall:

It's trouble as usual for city council as the plot thickens ...

Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen is frustrated with his job. He says he's working tremendously long hours on a mission to "turn this city around," yet he feels he can't satisfy people with his efforts. He says he needs another employee in his office to be able to meet the expectations that people have.

Fifth Ward Councilman Gene Meadows is evidently one who is dissatisfied. He doesn't like the fact that Allen hasn't answered all his e-mails.

In his defense, Allen explained that since he returned from vacation he has not had time to go through all of his electronic correspondence. He affirms he has taken his allowance of exactly 10 days of vacation in 2014.

But, Meadows, unwilling to accept the explanation, says. “If we’re prohibited from contacting department heads to ask a question, you’re going to have to find some way to respond to us regardless of the number of e-mails that you get.”

The dramatic conflict builds ...

Meadows then accuses Allen of being gone Thursday and Friday, non-vacation days.

Allen replies that he had his required 40 hours of weekly work in by Thursday, so he didn't work those days.

The climax is upon the table ...

“I don’t think I’ve cheated anybody,” Allen says. “I took a week’s vacation. I left early last week. I already had my 40 hours in. To me it is somewhat insulting. I understand your frustrations that I haven’t been able to get back to you on an e-mail but the last time I checked there’s still 83 emails I didn’t get through. I got through about 70 of them.” Such accusations make Allen wonder why he ever even took the job of city manager.

Insult leads to insult ... 

Meadows replies by denying he said "anybody cheated the city our of any hours," and he stresses he has weeks in which he works "70 and 80 hours, too."

And, at last, the anticipated denouement ...

Councilman Meadow says, "That's life."

(Frank Lewis. "City Mgr. frustrated with job." Portsmouth Daily Times. November 16, 2014)

Another Stirring Performance

What will become of all the unanswered e-mails? Are they merely a product of well-deserved vacation time, or are they related to some kind of dastardly, secretive prohibition?

And, what of all of this massive overtime argument and the Mexican standoff of "I work more than you work." It seems what we have here is the classic theme of "failure to communicate" further complicated by the age-old maxim: "There are not enough hours in the day."

Will the city manager get help? Will the councilman continue his Frank Sinatraesque view of the problem?

And, in the meantime, will discussions at City Council meetings ever lose their smack of "na-na, na-na, boo-boo; stick your head in doo-doo"?

"I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet,
A pawn, and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out,
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race!

"That's life! (That's life)
I tell ya, I can't deny it.
I thought of quittin', baby,
But my heart just ain't gonna buy it.
And if I didn't think it was worth one single try,
I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly."

From "That's Life" by Frank Sinatra

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