Trustees wrangle over general manager’s evaluation |

Trustees wrangle over general manager’s evaluation

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Indian Hills General Improvement District board members won’t be addressing General Manager Jim Bentley’s response to their criticisms.

Two previously scheduled discussions had been postponed before Wednesday, when the GID board was scheduled to decide whether the issue required another closed session. But when the topic came up, the trustees began arguing among themselves over the availability of background information – the criticism and the responses – and accusing each other of withholding it.

After the wrangling, the members concluded they won’t revisit the issue until Bentley is evaluated again next year.

Bentley had expected a discussion.

“The basic underlying issue is not closed,” he told the board. “This issue is not settled.”

The dispute arose when the board conducted Bentley’s annual evaluation earlier this year. The written complaints, and Bentley’s response, indicate that he asked Haskell, Riekenberg and Fairfax to elaborate on their criticism about his job performance and an apparent denial of a pay raise. He makes $60,366.

After a trip to Douglas District Court, Bentley got time to answer the complaints. His response was originally scheduled June 13, postponed to June 20, then reset for Wednesday. The trustees’ complaints, and Bentley’s responses, were released during Wednesday night’s meeting.

The trustees accused Bentley of insubordination and questioned some of his management decisions.

Fairfax accused Bentley of “not being completely forthright with the district,” while Riekenberg cited a “total lack of following district policies and procedures.”

Haskell called him “argumentative, defensive and uncooperative unless his view is being recognized or accepted.”

“Instead of carrying out policies, or the will of the majority of the board, he insists on being a policy maker, playing politics and positioning the board in unfavorable ways,” she wrote.

In a 9-page response, Bentley called the comment “an expression of frustration” that “expresses a lack of understanding of the difference between leadership and direction, a distinction which successful managers know and unsuccessful managers don’t. It reeks of frustration that the staff and the public which come into contact with me find a person with their best interests at heart.”

He also wrote that he takes his direction from the board as a whole, not individual members.

“I have done nothing which warrants the subjective evaluations and scores provided by these three trustees,” he wrote. “I have performed at or above any evaluation standards for my position. And, I believe I merit the pay increase as in the contract terms.”

Several recent Indian Hills GID agendas have included discussions on Bentley’s contract, and the lawsuit he filed in District Court resulted in a temporary order to stop the three trustees from trying to fire him.

Haskell and Riekenberg have made no secret of their contempt for Bentley.

Fairfax resigned in May amid a recall attempt. A replacement for Fairfax hasn’t been selected.