Mayhem in Manchester CARROLL COUNTY

June 22, 1993

An aura of contrariness has descended on the Manchester Town Council. At its last meeting, Councilman Robert Kolodziejski, who has been absent from several meetings, said he was "disgusted" with the behavior of several of his colleagues during his absence. He correctly called for his fellow council members to behave in a more collegial fashion.

Bickering among the members has increased to the level where simple administrative tasks, such as determining the best format for the treasurer's report or who should do the printing of the new ordinances, have become battle royals. The commotion over the recent raises given to town employees took on an unnecessary and ugly personal edge.

Instead of trying to resolve these issues amicably, some members have used these discussions as an opportunity to snipe at each other, the mayor and town manager. And by capriciously disbanding -- without an adequate explanation -- the town's ad hoc water and sewer committee, the council seems to be treating citizen volunteers with similar contempt.

All of this squabbling is symptomatic of a more fundamental disagreement among the members of the town's government. One faction -- John Riley, Kathryn Riley and Douglas Myers -- believes that the council and mayor should be running the municipal business without any help. The other faction -- Mr. Kolodziejski and Charlotte Collett -- acknowledges that the town's problems have become sufficiently complex and require more attention than they receive from part-time elected officials.

In the middle sits Town Manager Terry Short, who was hired more than a year ago. While he has brought a level of professional management and efficiency to Manchester's government, Mr. Short has apparently rubbed some council members the wrong way. They, in turn, seem intent on making his life difficult. They complained about Mr. Short's pay raise and accused him of imposing a "gag" order on town employees.

Instead of continually second-guessing their decisions, the council should be offering constructive criticism -- when needed -- to town employees. The residents of Manchester would be better served if the council ended this petty back-biting and focused on real problems.

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