Dear Editor:

A 3.4 out of 4. This is the score trumpeted after the Drew Nelson performance review. The mayor/council/Mountain Mail want you to take this at face value. I read the public documents. My take:

The consultant hired to complete this review submitted a standard questionnaire. No personal interviews, which surprised me. There were 21 questions, none of which were customized for this unique situation. My suggestion for additional questions that could have been asked, but were not:

1. How do you feel about Nelson’s moral authority to supervise Salida police so soon after his arrest?

2. Two senior female city employees left under duress within the first three months of his tenure and have made claims against Nelson and Salida. How do you feel he handled their situations?

3. Do you feel there is a healthy and professional administrator/mayor/council relationship?

There were 21 reviewers. Though they are not named, one can surmise they fell into three classes of roughly seven people each:

1. The mayor and six members of the Salida City Council. We already know how these individuals stand. Two questioned his basic fitness so soon after a domestic violence arrest. Five think he is great.

2. Senior managers in city government, who also report to Drew Nelson. Were any of these people free to express themselves? If they raised concerns, would they face being McClurkined out of their job? Under ordinary circumstances, it is not a bad practice to review your boss. If you read the documentation for the EEOC filings from the former finance director and deputy city clerk, you would realize these are not ordinary circumstances. Asking these questions when employees fear retaliation was an easy way to stuff the ballot box in Nelson’s favor.

3. Unnamed “community partners” participated. Who are these people? Seemingly, friends of the mayor/council, selected in secret. Based on a quote in the review, we can identify one of these individuals as the chairman of the board at KHEN, a friend and political supporter of the mayor. If this choice is representative of the “community partners,” consider this additional ballot box stuffing. What about choosing someone from The Alliance? Or Solvista Mental Health? Is it too much to ask that a different perspective be included?

Who is the consultant? Mountain States Employers Council. Where else do we know them from? Nelson previously hired them for other Salida HR work in the wake of the McClurkin/Travis debacle, thus far paying them around $6,000. They were subsequently hired by council to perform Nelson’s review. For all other activities not related to his own review, they are employed and paid by Nelson. Sure is a small world.

Council used our tax money to finance a sham review. The outcome was preordained based on the consultant used, the questions asked and the people selected to answer. In a butcher shop, they call this practice putting a thumb on the scale. In this case it was both elbows.

Vince Phillips,

Salida