By Melissa Jewett
In the last few months, the City of San Marcos has said farewell to several of its veteran staff members.
The San Marcos City Manager, Bert Lumbreras announced in October the reorganization of several departments within the city.
Rodney Cobb, former Director of Community Services, retired from the city in February 2019 and in November was named President of USA Softball.
In the last few months, two assistant city managers have left the city; Assistant City Manager Steve Parker accepted a position as the City Manager of Seguin, Texas.
The City of San Marcos announced the retirement of Assistant City Manager Collette Jamison in August 2019.
Abigail Gillfillan worked for the City of San Marcos for over 10 years; as of January 2020, Gillfillan is now a planner with Lionheart Places LLC.
Below is a handwritten letter submitted to Corridor News anonymously. The document is addressed to the San Marcos City Council and City Manager from an employee and is dated Nov. 19, 2019, by the San Marcos City Clerk’s office.
What do you think?
Tell us your thoughts about the loss of long-time city employees and the letter in the comments below.
“Mayor and Council,
I feel like I have no choice to write this letter even though I know it could potentially cost me my job, but for the greater good of the city, I feel I must. I would like to start out by saying that I know that the city council and the Mayor deep down want what is best for the city, but there is definitely a lack of leadership within this organization primarily from the Mayor. Her lack of distrust truly prevents this city from being productive. She is continually focused on what the employees have down wrong instead of the wonderful things they have accomplished. This is so evident from the list of questions she sends staff each week especially on council agenda days. If she would step back and look and think about the amount of time everyone spends sending out these questions for answers, the time spent answering them, the supervisory review of these answers and then the reposting of the answers, she might realize the impact it has on the productivity. We are all happy to answer these questions but we should get credit for the quality of the responses and the time it takes. Instead, we get ridiculed that items are not answered properly or other items are falling through the cracks. There is only so much staff capacity, so if this is how city council wants us to spend our time, just know there are consequences. I have watched some council members be really supportive and others be absolutely rude.
I watched the last council meeting and for the mayor to make a comment about how the school district has completely finished their building was an insult to the staff who are working diligently on the bond projects. The council needs to take some time and recognize they were the reason for running off the last city manager who in our own opinion was great. When a city manager leaves things will be pushed back and for San Marcos the bond projects were the collateral damage unfortunately. A year was lost right there. Jared Miller left because you all didn’t trust him and he knew it. we all knew it. He was a naval intelligence officer, who can be more trustworthy than that. does no one notice how the mayor rolls her eyes at other council members when she thinks their question is stupid? All of us watching on TV see it. And when people like Ed Mihalkanin are rude to staff and the rest of the council allows it to happen, that creates horrible morale. There is not another mayor that has a login to a city’s financial system. No one can believe this has happened. It is the explicit example of how the mayor has no capacity to trust people.
You have an incredible staff, people like Jamie Pettijohn, Steve Parker, Drew Wells, Chase Stapp, Tom Taggert, Les Stephens, Laurie Moyer, Heather Hurlbert and Shannon Mattingly, who are some of the best people in their fields yet there is no trust. They have held this city together in spite of all the city manager turnover. You should be focused on how your city manager and his chief of staff have yet to work a 40-hour week. You hired a city manager who has yet to donate a single dollar to the officer Cormier’s relief fund. Do you know how many city employees have donated yet the highest paid employee, your city manager, hasn’t donated anything. What does that say about his character? Those are the things you should be focusing on as a council. You also need to realize when the city council can’t make decisions on projects and they get drug out for years, this affects staff capacity and our ability to properly vet things.
I promise you that city staff feels like it is us against y’all and that is the last thing we want. We all love this city so I hope you will take this as constructive criticism. If you don’t believe me, do a survey of city personnel. You are seeing long-tenured and quality employees like Steve Parker, Jeff Caldwell, Collette Jamison all leave. I can assure you that this is not a coincidence and there will be others to follow.