What do you do when your bosses give you a not-so-glowing evaluation? If you are Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen, you evaluate yourself.
Most critical of Allen was Fifth Ward Councilman Gene Meadows who gave him a 1 under the category – “Meets with business leaders and residents,” under the category – “Citizens Relations,” and “Explores Opportunities for Shared Services with Scioto County to Reduce Costs.” Meadows gave Allen a 1.25 in “Community,”and a 1.75 under “Professional Skills and Status.”
No other member of City Council gave Allen lower than a 2.2. That rating came from Second Ward Councilwoman Jo Ann Aeh under the category – “Citizen Relations.”
When all categories were totaled, Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson gave Allen the highest total at 114.8, while Meadows gave him the lowest total at 52.4.
Among the most interesting narratives under the category – “What performance area(s) would you identify as most critical for improvement,” Meadows wrote – “The city manager continues to wear polo shirts to work in the office. This is a high level executive position and appropriate professional business attire should be worn in the office. The city manager should not look like he is enjoying an afternoon of golf on a regular basis.”
Under the category – “What would you identify as the manager’s strength(s), expressed in terms of the principle results achieved during the rating period?” Aeh summed up her opinion with – “Presents a balanced budget, upgrading traffic lane markings; established a positive productive relationship with SOPA (Southern Ohio Port Authority).” Under that same category, Meadows, who was highly critical of Allen, wrote – “It does appear the city manager is attempting to ease the fiscal challenges of the city, even though it is being done on the backs of the taxpayers.”
When members of Council were asked to offer constructive suggestions or assistance, again, the largest response came from Meadows who, among other things, criticized Allen’s work schedule. “Nowhere in the contract does it specify the city manager works only 40 hours per week. In fact, the contract specifies that a great deal of time outside normal business hours may be required. Even though employee may establish an appropriate work schedule, normal business hours are expected. Considering recent comments in the newspaper wherein the city manager is reported to have said he did not have time to deal with an issue, perhaps the city manager should spend more time in his office to deal with issues and not in Delta (where Allen was previously employed) where he enjoys his home.”
Allen addressed that concern by reporting that he worked 2,652 hours in 2016 – “more hours worked than other employees.”
The low scores inspired Allen to do his own evaluation and in each of the categories Allen gave himself a higher score than did members of City Council, giving himself several 5s including – “Diligently moved city forward in a thorough and methodical process, self-starter. Personally identified needs and addressed without having to be told what needs to be done,” and “Only two sick days in 2016.” In addition, Allen gave himself 5s in other categories including – ‘Innovative and Creative,” and “Provided reports and statistics on his own initiative without having to be asked to do so by governing body.”
On Tuesday Meadows told the Daily Times when you compare the evaluations over the past three years in wards 1, 3, 4 and 5, the wards where the Council representatives have been the same, the numbers have gone down, and if you look at the overall rating this year, including the 2nd and 6th wards, Allen’s overall average is 3.2, just above average.
“If you look at all the evaluations, you will see that everybody is satisfied with his fiscal management,” Meadows said. “But if you look at the evaluations, the biggest (negative) areas are public relations, communicating with the public.”
Allen said he has saved the city $8.8 million from Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2016.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Allen submitted a request to have his contract amended to read – “Employer agrees to review the compensation of the employee dependent upon the results of the performance evaluation conducted under the provisions of Section 12 of this agreement.” Allen requested the following language – “If or when raises are given, the employer agrees to provide employee the same across the board increase that other employees receive. Change in classification pay will not be considered across the board.”
Meadows continued to call attention to what he perceived as a communication issue on behalf of Allen. “If you look at last year’s (low) evaluation, he never talked to me about it,” Meadows said.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.