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Piranhas at Davenport City Hall PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Tuesday, 03 April 2001 18:00
All Alderman Brown needs is an ottoman and a pillow during council meetings as he reclines back in his seat, hands behind his head, and appears to be sound asleep. He rarely comments on any of the issues. Yet he is one of four aldermen who have perpetrated destruction upon an individual life at city hall. By Alderman Brown’s own admission, he supported the termination of city attorney Mike Meloy based upon complete hearsay and zero evidence. The hearsay, according to Alderman Brown, came directly from Aldermen Sherwood and Moritz. It is reported that Alderman Englemann initiated the backpedaling that allowed corporate counsel John Martin to rescind his resignation. So these are the four horsemen behind this evil deed. Naturally, both Aldermen Sherwood and Englemann are barking the loudest by declaring that many of the facts surrounding Mike Meloy’s abrupt dismissal are “nonsense.”

County Attorney Bill Davis, acting as legal counsel to Mike Meloy, has asked the city council to consider a settlement agreement for Mike in executive session after Wednesday’s regular council meeting (April 4). Meloy has proffered a settlement agreement to avoid litigation because it is in the best interest of his family to do so. He was given zero severance, and his reputation was recklessly besmirched by the lack of process by these four suspect individuals, plus Martin and acting administrator Kent Kolway, who also happens to be a personal friend of Martin’s, along with Human Resource Director Mary Thee, who worked closely with Martin in the legal department for many years before being promoted to her current position. The nepotism in this case is profound, the political abuse of power of the most evil nature, and the smell of it all reeks heavily from city hall.

Now Martin is scrambling, along with Aldermen Sherwood, Englemann, and no doubt Moritz, to disallow the settlement agreement to be discussed by the council in executive session. Their excuse is that if they allow Mike Meloy’s case to be discussed, then that opens the door for all “at-will” employees to bring their grievances before the council for possible remedy. And so it should be when the actions of a few aldermen result in this kind of abuse and destruction of a 22-year employee of city hall who had not a single disciplinary action against him during his employment with the city.

This council’s attitude appears to be the same as that of the previous council: if he doesn’t like it, then sue them. And sue them he must for the sake of his wife and three children, as well as his own reputation. But keep in mind that he is currently without income and litigation is expensive, right or wrong. Forcing Mike to go to court prolongs his ability to move on with his life, or to recover financially from this unexpected blow to his family. In fact it will only exacerbate his situation. On the other hand, the council doesn’t give a rip about a court case because it isn’t their money—it’s ours! As a Davenport taxpayer, the only decent and respectable thing left to do (besides a formal apology from the entire council and staff personnel involved) is to come to some settlement arrangement with Mike Meloy, both financially and to restore his good name (although I don’t believe any amount of money could ever repay him for this horror). At a minimum, Mike Meloy deserves the same consideration and civil treatment enjoyed by ex-city administrator Jim Pierce, ex-police chief Steve Lynn, ex-city employee Ann Corby (Roland Caldwell’s wife), and ex-civil rights director Brenda Drew Peoples.

These four aldermen, including staffers Martin, Kolway and Thee, would have you believe that Mike Meloy was dismissed for good cause. There isn’t an employee in the world that hasn’t done something that could be construed or trumped up as “cause.” A perfect example of this is conducting personal business on company time. Who has not used a company phone to call home, check on some personal business of some kind, or accepted a call from non-company individuals? Yet it can be legal grounds for dismissal of an at-will employee such as Mike Meloy. The city has personnel who still have their jobs after theft, altering documents, and a myriad of other offenses much worse than anything Mike Meloy is being accused of. Yet he was terminated without due process or even the chance to defend himself or remedy any complaint. There is no excuse for such conduct on these professionals’ part. But these four aldermen and staffers don’t want the public asking questions or learning just how despicably political Mike Meloy’s dismissal actually was. Mayor Yerington has repeatedly requested pertinent information as to why due process was not forthcoming for Meloy according to the city’s own administrative policy, and for assurances that would convince him this was not a political ploy, but he has been unsuccessful, first being ignored, then flatly refused. Is this not clear insubordination?

Many of you may be reading this and thinking it isn’t your problem. Unfortunately, it is. We, the citizens of Davenport, are responsible for electing these individuals who perpetrated this heinous act on an individual who faithfully served the city of Davenport for 22 years with a spotless record of performance. In fact, Mike Meloy’s most recent evaluation was so positive, he received a full merit bonus as a reward. We owe it to all our public servants to protect them from such diabolical abuses of power when we are the ones who voted such piranhas into office, putting them in a position to wreak havoc on individual lives, just as these four aldermen did to Mike Meloy and his family.

All of the city commissions that Mike provided service and legal counsel to individually passed resolutions of exemplary performance on Mike’s behalf. This speaks volumes about Mike’s professionalism, his ability to do his job, and the esteem with which his peers hold him. Are we going to allow a handful of mean-spirited aldermen to get away with this kind of treacherous behavior? Let the entire council know your sentiments by calling them in support of settling with Mike Meloy.
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