City Manager Apologizes For E-mail Response To Parks Board Member
West U. City Manager Michael Ross has issued an apology to Parks Board member Helen Talianchich concerning his previous e-mails that were called “inappropriate” by some.
The e-mail, sent today, April 22, reads:
“Dear Ms. Talianchich,
Please accept my sincere apology for the tone of my e-mails sent to you this past weekend. I should not have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and for that I am truly sorry.”
The issue began with an April 17 e-mail from Helen Talianchich to Parks and Recreation Director Tim O’Connor concerning lap swimming lanes at Colonial Park Pool, in which Talianchich wrote that O’Connor had a conflict of interest.
“Who developed the list of people who would be on this panel for Colonial Park Pool?” wrote Helen Talianchich. “In your official capacity as director of parks, I have noted how you try to push your own vision and try to discount opinions that differ from your vision.”
Ross responded to that e-mail twice, once on April 17 and one on April 18. In the April 18 e-mail, Ross wrote, “Your misguided and pathetic attempts to paint staff as driving this process for personal gain are growing old and tiresome with everyone. Why not let the residents of the city determine what should be built? Rest assured that we will all see what the public wants and council will direct staff in that direction.”
Former Councilwoman Marilyn Griffin providing copies of the e-mails at Tuesday’s council candidate forum, along with text accusing Ross of treating citizens with “disdain and outright nastiness.”
“Has anyone talked to city manager as to how he responds to the citizens of West U.? His response to Helen Talianchich…was extremely condescending and mean spirited,” said Griffin at the candidate forum Tuesday night.
Current council member and council candidate Chuck Guffey said the City of West U. was lucky to have Michael Ross as city manager, and said he has seen the e-mails and thinks Ross “just had a bad time” when he answered.
Ross issues a statement earlier today, saying “It is a city manager’s job to represent the City Council’s policies and positions in a public forum. Rest assured that a city manager would not last long if he represented himself and not the council. Of course the message is not always popular with everyone and it is sometimes seen as the manager’s instead of the council’s, and that’s okay. What is difficult for many to understand is that when someone personally attacks a manager’s staff member it is like attacking one of his kids. While I may have prematurely hit the send key on the specific message to the individual it was clear that the actions were being criticized, not the person. A good manager will always defend the appropriate actions of his or her staff.”