Article Comment 

Voice of the people: Chris Gottbrath

 

 

Let Wiseman's veto stand 

 

I am writing as a citizen of Starkville to express my disapproval of and disappointment with the Board of Aldermen's decision with regards to Lynn Spruill's employment in the July 2nd BOA meeting. I strongly disagree with the decision itself I can see no reason why Ms. Spruill's employment should be terminated. Further, I oppose the way the decision was made, without even the most superficial gesture towards providing justification or the most hollow sign of respect for Ms. Spruill's eight years of service to the community. I applaud and strongly support Mayor Wiseman's veto and the positions of Aldermen Walker and Maynard in voting against the motion. I urge the Board to reconsider the situation and allow the veto to stand. 

 

While there are others who know Ms. Spruill better than I do, I have interacted with her quite a number of times over the past few years both informally and in the context of my work with various civic organizations including the Transportation Committee, the Healthy Starkville Committee, the SMART (Starkville/MSU Area Rapid Transit) committee, the Commission on Disability and Starkville in Motion. In every instance Ms. Spruill has been the very model of a competent, confident, helpful and thoughtful civic leader. She displayed a deep knowledge of city policy and procedure together with an impressive ability to consider both minutia and the big picture when thinking about an issue. I cannot know her motivations, but our discussions lead me to believe that she chose to accept a position for which she is over qualified and for which she is drastically under-paid out of a desire to make this a better place for us to live and work. 

 

Ms. Spruill's character and her achievements as CAO are well known. Alderman Perkins commended her in 2011 saying that she has been "a tremendous and a valuable asset to the great city of Starkville" and that she "has an impeccable character and integrity." I want to highlight one situation in which I believe she went above and beyond the call of duty. The City of Starkville won the honor of "Mississippi's Healthiest Hometown 2011" as a part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation's Healthiest Hometown program. This honor came along with $50,000 in funds which was to be used for mini-grants and other activities coordinated by the Healthy Starkville Committee. The Healthy Starkville Committee worked closely with Ms. Spruill to develop a procedure for handling mini-grant reimbursement that met our needs, the needs of our grantees, all while complying with city policies. For various reasons the reimbursement mechanism was not going to work for one of the 11 community organizations that won mini-grant funding, as a small organization they could not afford to front the funds and then wait for reimbursement. Rather than allow the project to fail Lynn stepped in and personally provided funds to smooth the process. 

 

Finally I want to reiterate that the way this decision was made during the July 2nd meeting reflects poorly on the community as a whole. Citizens of this city deserve justification from our elected officials about the decisions that they take on our behalf. Those who work for and deal with the city government need to know that matters of great importance, such as employment, will be thoughtfully and justly considered. The way this decision to terminate Ms. Spruill's employment was made and communicated gives the strong impression that it was not motivated by a desire to do right for the community. It looks, rather, like some kind of political "pay back" or power-play. 

 

Again, I urge you to reconsider the termination of Lynn Spruill. She is a major asset to our community, providing a level of professional leadership and service far above and beyond what we deserve, given the paltry salary we've been paying her. 

 

Please allow Mayor Wiseman's veto to stand. 

 

Chris Gottbrath 

 

Starkville

 

 

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