‘There are problems
at City Hall’
Ketchum Council president calls
"…through (the Ketchum City
Council’s) mediation process, it’s my opinion that we have a toxic work
environment, and are taking aggressive steps to change that dynamic."
— RANDY HALL, Ketchum City
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
Ketchum City Council President
Randy Hall last week said he believes there are problems at City Hall
that are affecting how government affairs are handled.
In an interview with the Idaho
Mountain Express Friday, March 12, Hall said he is confident the city
can succeed in addressing a long list of important issues it faces but
alleged that Mayor Ed Simon has had a role in disrupting progress.
"I can tell already that this
council is going to be about action and getting work done," he said. "I
think it is going to be constructive."
However, Hall said he has become
deeply frustrated by recent developments in confidential mediation
meetings council members and Simon have been participating in since late
In his comments, Hall said the
obvious tension in recent months between he and Simon has escalated, in
part because Simon violated the confidential terms of the mediation
"Politics is a messy business, and
people who are in politics aren’t always going to get along," Hall said.
"My only priority is to find what’s best for the people of Ketchum.
"That said, there are problems at
City Hall. We recently lost yet another valuable employee. And, through
our mediation process, it’s my opinion that we have a toxic work
environment, and are taking aggressive steps to change that dynamic.
"Intelligent, talented people
don’t work in toxic work environments. We are going to continue to lose
good people unless the council and mayor step up and address the
During the mediation
proceedings—which the city hired specialist Bob Werth to
conduct—privileged information was used by Simon to influence city
policy, Hall said.
"The mediation process was
successful at identifying key problem areas such as communication and
personnel issues. However, the wheels came off when Mayor Simon breached
the mediation process by sharing privileged information with
ex-councilman Maurice Charlat.
"The process was further violated
when Mr. Charlat took that confidential information and shared it with a
city employee, a Ketchum City Council person and the mediator himself
with the sole purpose of influencing the process and the outcome of what
was supposed to be a confidential personnel matter."
Hall said he could not discuss the
details of the matter because of confidentiality provisions.
For his part, Simon this week said
he "did not have time to engage in personality conflicts" and likewise
could not discuss the matter in detail.
"Obviously, Randy and I don’t have
the best relationship and I try to avoid making it worse," Simon said.
Hall said he might remove himself
from the mediation meetings as a result of the incident.
Hall last week also expressed
frustration about comments Simon made to the Express last month
regarding the resignation of City Attorney Margaret Simms, who will
officially leave her post Friday. Simon said Simms had been "invaluable"
to the city.
The council president said Simon
threatened to sue the city to have Simms removed prior to his taking
office in 2002.
"The only reason he kept Margaret
there is because the law told him he had to."
As for the mounting list of
challenging issues facing the city, Hall said he believes that city
staff and the City Council are capable of methodically tackling them one
"It’s an exciting time," he said.
Hall noted that local option tax
revenues are climbing and the city has quelled concerns raised last year
that it was mishandling its finances.
"All that drama last year was
predicated on misinformation," he said. "The misinformation, I think,
was a result of the transition between (City Administrator) Ron LeBlanc
and (former City Administrator) Jim Jaquet."
Hall said his goals for the
city in coming years include:
- Establishing an appropriate
policy for the city to be compensated for development impacts.
- Initiating a review of the
city’s 2003 salary-structure package, which he believes costs the city
too much money.
- Developing a
- Drafting a master plan to
develop a new city hall in its existing site.
Hall said the greatest single
issue facing Ketchum is "somewhere between $250 million and $300 million
of development" that is likely to be proposed in the next few years.
"The cornerstone of that is Sun
Valley Company’s plans," he said, noting that the company has designed a
massive development for the River Run area west of Ketchum.
Developments are also planned for
Warm Springs Ranch, the Bald Mountain Lodge site and the Simplot Lot.
"We need to look at the big
picture," Hall said. "We need the A-Team out."