Parkersburg council drama creates city problems

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Regardless of the circumstances, Parkersburg residents have a right to expect their municipal government will continue to function properly, to serve their needs, and to do so in a way that is at least reasonably organized and professional. During Tuesday’s meeting of City Council’s Finance Committee, we caught a glimpse of some ways in which recent events have begun to affect our formerly relatively smooth-running city administration.

As complaints, filings, counter-filings, potential lawsuits and any number of other distractions continue to fly, it is natural to expect the human beings involved to be somewhat distracted. But that cannot be an excuse for sloppiness. In discussions on the payment of $67,000 for a phone system, it became apparent the absence of an active finance director is creating problems. When asked by Council President J.R. Carpenter, “Was there any idea of how we were planning on paying for this when we did it?” Personnel Director Pam Salvage, who has been handling administrative duties for the finance department, was forced to answer “I do not know what the plan was.”

Though Finance Director Ashley Flowers, who is now on paid leave, signed a document in August obligating the city to pay, she was, of course, not in attendance to explain how such payment was planned. Nor, for that matter, were either Mayor Bob Newell, who had regularly attended finance committee meetings in the past, or City Attorney Joe Santer, who had occasionally attended.

Newell was also absent from the city council meeting that followed the finance committee meeting.

It would appear information is beginning to fall through the cracks. Responsibilities are not being fulfilled.

Again, the multi-layered story that continues to unfold, the political intrigue, accusations and suspicions, must not become any more of a detriment to the people of Parkersburg than they already have. Those who signed on to serve must do so, to the best of their abilities, and with meeting their responsibility to the people as their highest priority.

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