Make city manager's review public

October 08, 2001 12:00 am

Tuesday night, the Baker City Council will retreat into executive session to review the performance of Baker City Manager Gordon Zimmerman.

Television cameras will be turned off, journalists will set aside their pens, and the public will be asked to leave the room.

That is, unless Zimmerman opts to open his review to the public.

The decision is his alone and is not a decision to be made in haste. If Zimmermans review is public, every praise and criticism of his performance will be laid bare for all to see.

Not a very attractive proposition when you know some very sharp criticism has been leveled at your professional performance by some of those who will be conducting the review.

However, when your performance also has been praised, and the criticism questioned, by members of that same reviewing body, it becomes time to let the light of public disclosure shine, illuminating the truth.

We know that at least one councilor Jeff Petry has said nothing Zimmerman could have done in a three-month probationary period could assuage the concerns that prompted him to ask for Zimmermans resignation in July.

And we know that at least one councilor Beverly Calder has said Zimmerman has done nothing to warrant being on probation, even though she voted in favor of the probationary period back in July.

These are strikingly different assessments of the same set of facts. The public should be allowed access to the councils discussion Tuesday so as to make its own assessment of Zimmerman, and of the councilors we have elected to manage our city.

We would encourage Zimmerman to open the session to the public. Otherwise, the public will only see the outcome of his review and not the process leading up to that outcome.

Zimmerman has suffered much public criticism already. Opening the session to the public wont hurt him much worse than hes hurt already.

Voters need to know the accusations and evidence, and how the councilors interpret and react to them.

The seven people we have elected to oversee our city seem to have very different opinions about the man hired to manage our city.

Their opinions are of vital interest to voters who have decisions of their own to make when they cast their ballots or sign petitions.