Council member says he favors firing two employees

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

Elk River Council Member Paul Motin has gone on record saying he favors firing two city employees, but the idea has been met with a cool reception from some of his colleagues on the City Council.

Motin raised the issue at the Monday, May 21, City Council meeting. He said he wasn’t seeking any action that night, but voiced his concern about two employees. “I’m just stating my personal opinion that I have no confidence in the human resources representative or the recreation manager, and if a motion were made I would vote in favor of firing both of them,” Motin said.

Council Member Jerry Gumphrey said he’s giving City Administrator Cal Portner, who began work with the city in October, time to assess the city’s employees.

“… To bring it up now and not to give the administrator time … I think it’s wrong,” Gumphrey added.

Council Member Matt Westgaard echoed that sentiment, telling Motin it’s “really unfair” to come to a public meeting and call for someone’s job when he hasn’t allowed the new city administrator and other recent hires to do their jobs.

Westgaard said Portner’s job is to manage staff and the day-to-day operations of City Hall, and it’s the City Council’s job to be policy makers.

“You brought it up and we ought to talk about it, but I think it’s baloney,” Westgaard told Motin.

Mayor John Dietz agreed with Westgaard that it isn’t the council’s job to suggest who should be fired.

“I think if Cal (Portner) thinks that we need to do that, he’ll come and tell us. He’s been here long enough, had a chance to evaluate the staff and I think if he saw people that shouldn’t be here, I don’t think they’d be here,” Dietz said.