OUR VIEW: Lack of communication mars selection process

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 4, 2007

We just do not get it. After repeated embarrassments caused by a lack of communication among city leaders, one would think they would make sure every one is on the same page before making any high-profile decisions.

One would be wrong. And this time, Mayor Cecil P. Williamson and Councilmen Melvin Yelverton and Thomas Moore are squarely to blame.

During the course of their interview process with Ronald Few, who was named the new fire chief Thursday night, the three aforementioned city leaders discovered several controversies that have plagued Few in his past.

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Before we go any further, let us state for the record that none of the incidents alone that we have researched are anything that would preclude Few from being an effective fire chief. That said, Few has a history of being at the center of controversy &8212; some caused by serious allegations being leveled at him.

Given the existence of these controversies, the entire city council should have been informed about Few&8217;s past. They should not have learned about the incidents as three councilmen said they did: when a reporter calls to ask what during the course of their interview led them to believe the past allegations were not serious enough to prevent their hiring of Few.

Few may very well be the most qualified candidate. He may very well be a capable man who has been the victim of at least three political power-plays. Few may be the best thing that could happen to the Demopolis Fire Department.

But, before he even arrives for his first day of work, his tenure as chief is now marred by allegations from his past. This could have been avoided had the mayor, Moore and Yelverton simply told the other three councilmen and let them ask questions of Few during their July 5 interview.

Furthermore, it is as if the mayor does not want the media talking to Few. We have asked city hall on two occasions for contact information. One time, the mayor said she &8220;was not ready to release that information.&8221; The second time, she told us to contact the city clerk, who told us she did not have any contact information for Few.

We have tried to contact Few using other means. We want to give him the opportunity the members of the Personnel Committee did not: to publicly clear the record about past allegations.

Members of the Personnel Committee owe the rest of the council and the citizens of this city an explanation for their secrecy. One day, we hope they will learn that keeping secrets breeds suspicion. There is already enough of that to go around; we do not need anymore.