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Passions Rise at Sumner City Council Meeting Over City Administrator Appointment

When members of the city council and community expressed concern over the hiring of former police chief John Galle as city administrator, Mayor Dave Enslow called them “sore losers” and said he was embarrassed for their lack of cordiality.

Tempers are getting hotter in Sumner – and the broken air conditioner didn’t help during last night’s regular city council meeting.

It was John Galle’s first council meeting and it was the contested topic of the evening, as members of the community and city council expressed their opinions on his appointment and concern over how he came into office.

During public comment, resident Kathleen Schaffer called Galle’s appointment “beyond unconscionable” and questioned why the city didn’t open up the job description to the general public.

“I am in shock you didn’t consider the best efforts for the City of Sumner,” said Schaffer. “I think the time for making complaints to this council is over because you are out of touch with what this town needs.”

Mayor Dave Enslow questioned Schaffer’s ties to Sumner and whether or not she was a city resident at all. He then defended his decision to appoint Galle into the highest position of the city by pointing out that the “wonderfulness of Sumner comes from the staff” and that the balanced budget and city management is impressive and shouldn’t be a concern.

“I’m sure there are a lot of qualified people out there but I feel very fortunate that we hired the person we did,” said Enslow. “Because that’s what mayors do – mayors make decisions about hiring particular senior staff people… I made a good decision and I feel sorry there is second-guessing going on but sometimes that’s part of being the mayor – having rocks thrown at you.”

Councilmember Nancy Dumas attempted to add an amendment to the meeting agenda to discuss Galle’s appointment and Randy Hynek seconded her motion. After some back and forth, the council voted twice to move the discussion forward. City Attorney Brett Vinson pushed back on the measure and, after a couple tries to have a council discussion, the council flipped and the amendment was overruled.

“We had this discussion last week and voted 5-2 to approve the contract. I don’t know what else there is to say about it,” said Enslow. “Changing it when we’ve had a vote on it seems strange to me. Seems like the people who are doing it are sore losers.”

Dumas responded that she was not trying to be a “sore loser,” she was looking out for the interests of the community and wanted the opportunity to express her concerns over Galle’s salary terms, his limited financial experience and the haste under which his contract was approved.

“As much as I respect our new city administrator, in a very short time he’ll be getting paid the same amount as our prior city administrator, who has over 30 years of city experience and who is a financial guru in her own right,” said Hynek. “We’ll have to hire a separate financial analyst plus a city administrator to take her place.”

Hynek then stated that he knew “why Galle was really appointed” – because he pressed criminal charges against him in the while he was police chief.  

“Your alleged attempt to indict me in a felony was wrong,” Hynek told Galle during council reports.

Enslow then called a 5-minute recess so everyone could cool off, during which Hynek and councilmember Curt Brown exchanged aggressive verbal barbs while standing on the dais.

“Even though I’m accused of voting the way the mayor wants, that is untrue,” said Brown during his report. “If people want me to be known as the Mayor’s pawn, so be it. But just know I’m voting for the best for you.”

During her council report, Dumas remained firm about why she was questioning Galle’s appointment.

“If I were in an employment office and I was looking at Galle’s resume, I am not seeing the transferrable skill set from police chief to city administrator. The lack of experience is what I find concerning,” said Dumas. “That doesn’t mean [Galle] can’t be a quick study, but we’re in the middle of a budget year. When I was in the office about 6 weeks ago, all the financial documents were being pulled out of Diane’s office. When we are at such a strain as a city that we have to charge event fees, I don’t see how this is in the financial interest of our citizens.”

Before the council moved into executive session, Enslow expressed his dismay over the statements of his council.

“Frankly I’m embarrassed about how we’ve been acting… at least some of us,” said Enslow. “He’s exactly the man we need for the job. There are so many moving parts in this town that we didn’t have time for an extensive city administrator search. Sorry that some of the council can’t just accept it and move on.”

Kathleen July 17, 2012 at 08:26 PM
In checking the records, I find Mayor Enslow has acted differently in this hiring than past hires. When Diane Supler wwas hired in 2010 to replace Joan Doan as Administrator Diane had already worked 4 years for the City of Sumner as Deputy Adminstrator with a strong background in finances. At that time, Mayor Enslow is quoted in news sources as saying that he would take applications, including Diane's, and take two months to vet the applications as proper procedure. In the Galle hiring, Mayor Enslow did none of those steps and hired Galle unilaterally without any vetting process and then gave him the top of the pay scale.......Mayor Enslow seems to have changed his principles on hiring to appoint someone he likes instead. That does not seem to be in the best inerest of the public, but then as The State Hearing Board just denied Orton Junction after the thousands of Sumner tax dollars poured into it, that does not see to be anything new.
Kyle July 18, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I've only lived in Sumner for a couple years but I'm tired of seeing the mayor and city council in the news all the time. John Galle is a good man. Does that mean the position shouldn't have been opened to other candidates? Of course not. Does that mean he's qualified to be the city administrator? Of course not. OK so if you get past those points then it still leaves you with why is a person hired with no experience in that position at the top of the pay scale? I'm all for giving someone a chance to learn a new position but I don't start them out at the top of the pay scale. Mayor Enslow, get over yourself you're a small town mayor start acting like it and bring some dignity back to Sumner's government!
Concerned Mom July 18, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I think it is time for a new mayor. I do not think he is doing anything in Sumner's best interest - only his own and the good ole boy concept. I am tired of hearing of all the problems in the news. It is like Bob Young and Bonney Lake all over again. What a nightmare!
P Jones July 18, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I totally agree with Kyle very good points
Concerned Sumner Citizen July 18, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Enslow needs to go. He's getty too high-and-mighty for my tastes.
Sara July 18, 2012 at 07:33 PM
I agree. It's time for new faces and new ideas down at city hall.
Craig Roberts July 19, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I just finished watching the council meeting on the 16th of July and I was amazed. I have lived in Sumner for the past 20 years. I understand small town politics can be "High School" but this is rediculous. It was quite telling when Mayor Enslow was confronted with something that he was not prepared for and proceded to admonish the person who put him on the spot. Then he chastised fellow council members because they didn't agree with him, save Cindi Hochstatter. I realize that City Councils are made up of those that agree with one point of view and those that don't. Mayor Enslow has polarized our council to the point that we as citizens of Sumner are going to pay for his agenda for the next year and a half because he controls the majority of the council and has no intention of stopping. And that is scary. The only two council members to speak out for the citizens of Sumner seem to be Nancy Dumas and Randy Hynak. I realize Mr. Hynak has some what of an agenda but at least he keeps the discussion going. Where are the rest of the council? I guess if you agree with the Mayor all you have to do is vote. My only disapointment was Curt Brown. I have the utmost respect for that man, as an educator, coach, cancer survivor. If there is anyone on the council and for that matter in the city of Sumner that embodies what Leroy Goff stood for it is Curt Brown. And for the life of me I don't understand his reasoning. "Absolute power corrupts abosutlely"
Brianna July 19, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Wow, I have to agree with all these comments. I have only lived in Sumner for a year, but I find the mayor and city council actions to be appauling! Mayor Enslow's comment of 'sore losers' is so 'high school'. I think it may be time for a new mayor, from everything I have read today and previously, Enslow sounds like he has an agenda for himself and doesn't like desention from the council or the public...may be time to impeach or a 'no confidence' vote from the public. This council needs to get their act together and do what is best for the city of Sumner and its residents. Leave your personal feelings and home.
Joanne July 19, 2012 at 09:21 PM
It's unfortunate that this took place. Behind closed door politics is the worst and the residents are the ones who suffer. The only way for this to be amended is to have voices and signatures to recall the Mayor. The residents are the ones in charge - not him. You put him in office, you can apply the heat and have him removed. Politicians are taking advantage of their constituents all across the country and the constituents are putting a stop to it.

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