Transparency and Compensation

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Posting on behalf of Kim Rosenberg

Transparency and Compensation

When I taught Writing as Critical Inquiry at PSU, I always told my students to go to the primary source material before writing that 5,000 word final paper on whatever subject they chose related to our text—a behemoth of a book titled American Earth. They could have any opinion they wanted, of course, but an opinion without source material cited in their bibliography wasn’t ever going to cut it for me. Oh, and 5,000 words means 5,000 words and they better be spellchecked, honey.

There’s been some talk about a raise or a bonus for the City Manager. It’s on the agenda for the next council meeting Wednesday May 3, at 6pm. I was recently with some folks and the subject of a raise for the City Manager came up. People chimed in with their opinions but it struck me that it would be a good idea to have more information—some kind of source material and not just beach gossip or coffee talk between friends, in order to form an opinion.

The City Manager’s performance review was completed a few weeks ago in an executive session. The public couldn’t attend the meeting or read the materials presented so there’s no information about why a raise is justified now or what kind of work she’s been doing.

Performance reviews are usually completed every year to identify the areas you excel in as an employee and the areas in which you don’t. You make career goals as an employee and have a discussion with your boss to help you reach those goals. If your job involves oversight of other staff, there’s input from that staff to see what kind of leader you are.

In a private company all that information goes into your personnel file where it hangs out in a drawer until the next year. Nobody sees it except you, your boss and HR until it’s hauled out again to see how you’re doing. Raises in compensation above the cost of living increases that I sincerely hope you always get or got are tied to your performance. If you do your job well, the company can reward you with a raise or a bonus or like at the mobile home factory where I worked for one sad year–a frozen turkey at Christmas.

As Council President, Kozlowski has traditionally taken the lead on performance reviews. She also has a long career and experience in human resources. She’s one of two councilors who have worked with the current city manager since she was hired. Plus, Kozlowski’s worked with a number of the previous city managers during her time on council. She put together the review form for staff and the council to submit. Three of the five on council are new and have only worked with the city manager for a few months.

Kozlowski summarized the performance review for the public at last month’s council meeting, but because the review itself took place behind closed doors justification for a raise isn’t clear to the public and neither is how well she does her job or what challenges and obstacles she’s faced in performing her job.

Performance reviews can be done in public sessions and review materials can be made public after the fact, if the employee agrees. The city manager gave permission to share the documents with the public.

You can read Aman’s performance review materials including staff and council’s input and community comments on the city’s website by clicking the City Manager Employment Agreement link. The review materials begin on page 7.

Four of five councilors feel Aman has exceeded her role as City Manager. Staff input shows Aman to be a “transformational manager.” These are the people who work with and for her every day—staff and council. I trust their opinions.

The only way to let the light in is to open the curtains. As they say in the 12 step groups, we are only as sick as our secrets.

Kim Rosenberg