Managers under the microscope |

Managers under the microscope

Post Independent Opinion
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

Ed Green started today in the unexpected position of no longer being the Garfield County manager. On Tuesday, the Garfield Board of County Commissioners terminated Green, effective immediately, ending his nearly 14 years of service.

It’s a shake-up at the top of county government that caught Green by surprise, coming just about a month after a positive review and contract renewal.

We, too, are shocked. Green has been a capable leader who has managed to bend with the political winds while leading the county government through a period of unprecedented growth and change.

Think of Garfield County government in 1998, when Green was hired, and today. It has new and upgraded facilities from Glenwood Springs to Rifle, a much larger staff and a level of sophistication that would have been hard to imagine in the late ’90s.

Green has been a strong leader who earned a tall measure of respect from most county staff. And yet, for reasons that may never be expressed, Green was shown the door.

Commissioner John Martin said the move was driven by the BOCC’s desire to have more direct involvement in the decisions of county government.

Is Garfield County, then, headed toward an arrangement in which the elected county commissioners, operating in a highly political environment, will step beyond setting policy and exert a stronger hand in the operations of county government departments?

From our corner, we also sense this decision was driven by the commissioners’ push to give an edge to business, and that perhaps Green was not moving aggressively enough in this direction.

We may learn the answer in the coming months, as we see how the BOCC shapes the county’s administrative structure and by the type of person tapped for the leadership post.

While the BOCC made an abrupt move to end Green’s leadership in county government, the Roaring Fork School Board is poised to make an equally weighty, but not unexpected, decision tonight about its own top administrator, Superintendent Judy Haptonstall.

Unlike Green, Haptonstall has been under fire for months. Her dismissal of a popular elementary school principal last spring brought to a boil complaints that had been simmering among some parents and teachers over her leadership style.

While Haptonstall has the solid support of many of the district’s principals and a longstanding devotion to educational excellence in the public schools, negative perceptions about her in the community changed the course of the recent school board election.

Now, that newly constituted school board meets tonight to review hundreds of comments about her performance. Although board members have been mulling this question for months, we urge them to listen carefully to all the comments, consider their options, and then take time to sleep on their decision.

Up or down, their decision about Haptonstall will have far-reaching effects. We expect board members to be confident that their decision is in the best interests of the young people being educated in the Roaring Fork School District.

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