There is likely no shortage of Crookston residents who on more than one occasion have thrown their arms up in the air in exasperation over the turmoil in the City of Crookston administration, the city council's struggles to get back to full strength, and the lack of a mayor for the community.
But if you've been in Crookston for a few years, you'd likely conclude that the council meeting last week, at which the council unanimously approved a separation agreement with City Administrator Shannon Stassen, was nothing less than smooth sailing compared to the departure of Stassen's predecessor, Tony Chladek. After a brief, often awkward and tense tenure at the helm of the City operation, Chladek didn't mince words when he essentially pleaded for his job at a council meeting. He was fired anyway, and had to get up and exit the council meeting the moment it happened. It was not pleasant.
Those were tumultuous times, indeed. But soon after, a sense of calm and order was restored, as the council turned to longtime Public Works Director Pat Kelly to fill the administrator role while the process of finding a successor to Chladek played out.
In no-nonsense, controversy-free fashion, Kelly ran several council Ways and Means Committee meetings. It was almost boring, but you found no one complaining, given the trials and tribulations that marked Chladek's time as administrator.
Maybe he doesn't want the gig - the Times has reached out to him to ask - but if Kelly is open to it, it would sure seem to make a ton of sense to have him serve as interim administrator once again. Ward 5 Council Member Dale Stainbrook, the vice mayor filling in as mayor since Guy Martin's resignation, indicated last week that the City, looking in his estimation at a nine-month process to hire an administrator, might hire an interim administrator from the outside. There are firms, Stainbrook said, that specialize in helping organizations like city governments find interim leaders who step in for a few months.
It sounds reasonable enough, and it also might be nice to have someone come in to lead temporarily who is objective and brings no previous biases to the table. But it just seems unnecessary, and unnecessarily costly, to hire some outside firm to that's going to supply a temporary administrator, especially if a reasonable solution is right in front of you.
Is this firm also going to help the City in its search for a permanent administrator? If so, utilizing their services and expertise makes more sense.
But, if not, there seems to be a simpler, more cost-effective, temporary solution. It worked pretty slick a few years ago. With a council seat to fill and a mayor to find as well, the challenges are no doubt more daunting this time around, but maybe look in before you look out.