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Revolving door to managers office about to spin again?
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Forsyth County News
As they look back on the events of the past week, and anticipate what the next week might bring, the three non-incumbent candidates who will be on November’s election ballot hoping to win seats on the county commission might want to reconsider.

Who in their right mind would want to be part of such an inept exercise in local governing?

Let’s see if we can put it into perspective:

A majority of the current commission apparently has voted, or at least agreed in private, to fire the county manager.
Sadly, that in itself isn’t exactly earth shattering news, considering the rate with which the county government has moved people in and out of that job in the past four years.

But Commissioner Jim Harrell and Chairman Charles Laughinghouse, apparently the losing pair in a 3-2 split, took advantage of a procedural move last week to delay the termination until this week, in what is either a last-ditch hope to change somebody’s mind or a temperamental refusal to admit defeat by the commission’s majority.

So Rhonda O’Connor, as of today, remains the county manager, though the board for which she works seems committed to firing her. We think. Maybe. Unless the vote gets postponed again, or somebody changes their mind.

Then there is the reason for termination. Commissioners say that O’Connor has a history of failing to keep the board properly informed, as evidenced by the fact that $5 million was included in this year’s budget expenditures as a transfer from reserve county funds.

Commissioners, opposed to spending the reserves, say they were never informed that the $5 million listed on the budget was coming from the county’s savings account.

Facing serious budget deficits, commissioners are reluctant to deplete reserve funds due to the potential impact on county bond programs.

Failing to keep the bosses informed is certainly a significant problem for a county manager, and this isn’t the first time the issue has arisen with O’Connor. That said, commissioners are the ones who actually approve the budget, and they can’t dodge the reality that they clearly didn’t look closely enough at the spending document, or they would have known where the money was coming from.

Laughinghouse, meanwhile, a big supporter of the county manager from the beginning of her tenure a year ago, reportedly has told others that he would rehire her to the position in January, when he anticipates that a majority of a new commission board would vote with him.

When asked, he said it was something that he would “consider,” and did not deny the possibility.

Commissioners-elect, take note — your votes already are being taken for granted.

The secretive manner in which the county has handled the potential termination of O’Connor and the lack of open discussion of the issue in any public forum has led to an undercurrent of speculation and a variety of allegations and rumors, making the situation worse than it should have been.

You would think after having Stevie Mills, David Armstrong and Jeff Quesenberry in and out of the county manager’s office in a four-year span, commissioners would have a better sense of how to handle things by now.

As is usually the case with high profile county terminations, if O’Connor is sent packing it will be with a sizable separation settlement, and the county will once again find itself in the seemingly impossible position of finding a competent administrator who can work with a governmental entity that occasionally excels but frequently just seems silly and clueless. Like now.

As they contemplate filling the manager’s job for the fourth time since 2004, county commissioners might want to negotiate a frequency-based bargain rate with an employee recruitment service. That, at least, might be money for which they could properly account in the county budget.