“I’m extremely disappointed with the lack of fiduciary responsibility council is showing recently with this situation”

LEBANON, Missouri- Reprinted below is a letter Eric Tietze, a Ward 1 voter and Heard removal advocate sent to all of city council as well as Mayor Josh Ray about his opinions on the resignation agreements they’re currently be addressed with the current City Administrator
Members of City Council of Lebanon:

“As a citizen and Ward 1 voter I am glad to see council is finally taking the appropriate steps to remove City Administrator Heard and put our community on track to move forward with a new City Administrator in the near future. I have some serious concerns about some things I’m hearing will be involved in the separation however and would like to take a moment to address them with council.

Several years back, under a different seated council, Mr. Heard was paid a fairly large severance package when his then existing contract was not renewed. I have no idea why the council at that time would have signed a contract which required severance for simply not giving a new contract at the expiration of that one, but that is a moot point currently. However, the only logical reason I can see the contract at that time would have contained such a clause was due to the belief that without the contract a severance package in the future would not exist.

At the current time, being employed without a contract would leave Mr. Heard as an at-will employee the same as every other employee of the city. Does the city negotiate resignation agreements with clerks at the utilities office, linemen with the electric department or the men and women in our police and fire departments? I’ve not heard of such a thing happening in the past. By doing so now council is achieving a couple of things. First, you are now setting a precedent of how we release employees from their positions going forward. If this is not the way employment of other individuals within the city has been handled or will be handled in the future, you have simply reinforced the existing idea among the voters that council believes Mr. Heard is more important than the rest of the city’s employees and citizens. When looking at your responsibility to the citizens to be prudent and wise with the expenditures of our tax dollars, where does a large severance package to a non-contracted employee fit in? I, along with numerous other citizens I’ve spoken with, are at a loss as to why the situation is being handled this way instead of council voting to remove Mr. Heard and saving the city tens-of-thousands of dollars in severance pay.

I’ve also been told by several sources that one portion of the resignation agreement is for our Mayor to also agree to resign his position. I’m hoping this is merely an unfounded rumor. According to what I’ve been told, Mr. Heard was boasting of this at a local establishment one evening. If this is a portion of the resignation agreement council signs it is another slap in the face to the citizens of Lebanon. You are essentially telling the citizens of our city, ‘Fine, we’ll force Mr. Heard to resign as you wish but we’re also going to remove the Mayor you elected and have supported for standing up for the citizens. We will make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future.’

I’m extremely disappointed with the lack of fiduciary responsibility council is showing recently with this situation. I’m also dismayed with what I’m hearing council is planning to give Mr. Heard to get a resignation. These special privileges and considerations are not given to other employees of the city, which leads me to wonder if council may be setting a legal precedent for the future handling of employment dismissals. Why would council not handle Mr. Heard the same way any other employee in the city would be handled, terminate him or accept a resignation with two to four weeks notice and no severance pay after that? Accept the resignation with notice, remove him from his position effective immediately and but pay him for the final two or four weeks of his notice. That would be a much more understandable way to handle this situation and much more appropriate for the citizens and taxpayers.

If these two items are part of the resignation agreement, they will be an issue in the next city council elections and mayoral election. There are a couple of councilpersons I have a feeling have ambitions for a mayoral run in the near future, and I’m sure the citizens will be demanding an explanation for this special treatment and spending of our tax dollars from them as well as the existing council members.
I will also be sharing this letter on social media through both my personal accounts and through my ‘Citizens for the Removal of Chris Heard’ Facebook page.”

Eric Tietze
Ward 1
Lebanon, Mo.