Bosque Farms

The Bosque Farms Village Council did not endorse employees recommended for top positions in the village Thursday, saying they want to review resumes before making final decisions.

The action was not discussed during the council meeting, but there were ripple effects afterwards.

Village administrator Julie Harding, Police Chief Louis Burkhard and Treasurer Julie Olona will have to wait until the next meeting to see if they will be rehired.

Mayor Roger Baldwin submitted their names.

“I was very surprised. I was very disappointed it went this way, and I’m embarrassed for the Village of Bosque Farms, because this affects the morale of every employee,” Baldwin said later. “I have worked very hard to bring up the morale of employees, and now we have to start building the morale again. I’ve had several employees come to me and ask me what’s going on. I said ‘Keep doing your job, and we will work through this.’

“Of all of the things we had on the table last night, I thought it would pass. With what the village can afford to pay, we need to treat employees with respect. I hope this gets worked out right away, and I will call for a special meeting so we can get this resolved before it creates any more problems. The bottom line: we’ve all got a job to do, and we’ve got to put this behind us and get back to work. Employees can’t function well under a microscope and not knowing if our superiors want us around.”

This was the first meeting after the March 5 municipal elections and two new councilors, David Linthicum and Ginger Eldridge, said they wanted to be familiar with the applicants. Councilor Ken Hays moved that the council wait until the next meeting before considering rehiring the three. Linthicum agreed.

Hays said he’s “extremely happy with all of the employees who work at the village,” but he voted to table the decisions “as a courtesy to the new village councilors, to give them the opportunity to make an informed choice.”

The councilors were asked to agree or disagree with appointments to the three village positions plus appointments to the planning and zoning board and the library board. All were tabled.

“It was a chance for the new people to have the opportunity to look at all the qualifications of all of the proposed people for the planning and zoning and the library board, and look at their folders and familiarize themselves with it,” Hays said.

“If we have to take some heat, OK, we tried to do the best job we could. This gives them time to get the information. Put yourself in their position. Do you want to vote and make an intelligent decision on someone you don’t know about? I think all of the present employees do an outstanding job, but I still believe that new people (on the council) ought to have the opportunity to have a chance to learn and figure the information out. It’s not unreasonable. Put yourself in their position. As to the present employees, this has nothing to do with your employment. Your jobs are not in jeopardy. We need the two new people (councilors) to have the information to make the intelligent decisions.”

Linthicum said later that he had tried to get information from the village about the candidates and never was able to get it. Without the information, he did not want to vote on the positions.

“I was very dismayed at what transpired. I have been trying to find out what was happening since we were sworn in by the mayor,” Linthicum said. “I didn’t know who was going to be appointed to what. It was tough for me to make any type of informed decision about what was going on. It put us at a disadvantage going in. I tried for a week and a half to get information and we never got it. No one knew. I never saw Mr. Burkhard’s name on any list. No information was given to us. The mayor never told us who he was going to appoint. In order to make an informed, intelligent decision, there would have to have been information provided. It’s not like we didn’t try to get information ahead of time.

“We got a partial list on March 20. There were just names on it, nothing about positions,” he said, adding that “they weren’t even the names of the people in the positions.”

Linthicum has worked with Burkhard in the past and said he is sorry that Burkhard and the others were disappointed.

“It has nothing to do with the candidates. No information was provided to us despite the fact that we tried to get information. It has nothing to do with the background because we didn’t know anything (about the candidates for the jobs). It’s my understanding, it was tabled until the next meeting. They all have their jobs. There isn’t going to be an interruption in their jobs or their pay.”

Harding, Olona and Burhard were not happy with the outcome.

“I was disappointed that they didn’t re-appoint us. I was disappointed that they would question our qualifications,” said Harding when contacted by the News-Bulletin. “It caught us off guard. It leaves us very unsure as to where we stand in the village. I’m not happy we were questioned. It didn’t make us feel very comfortable. It left us twisting in the wind, not sure what was happening. I perceived it as ‘you’re going to be under a microscope.’ Julie and Louis were shocked. We all have the same conclusion: ‘They didn’t think we were qualified.’ They want updated resumes by Monday.”

Julie Olona agreed when she was called. “I am disappointed anyone questions as to whether I can do my job. I’ve been here 10 years. When they asked me for an update on my resume to see if I am qualified for my position: Do they think I’m unqualified to do the job when I’ve been doing it for 10 years? It was very disappointing, it was hurtful.”

Olona said she has worked with Hays many times through the years.

“He and I have worked together. For him to have raised this, I am very distressed,” she said.

Burkhard, when contacted by the News-Bulletin, said, “I’m not worried about my appointment so much.

“It has created a situation in the police department. I spent the last nine months building leadership and direction and getting it stabilized. I hired new people. It has a ripple effect on the police department to go through this again, if they’re left without a chief. I worked hard bringing stability to what was turmoil when I walked in the door.

“I was assured we were doing a good job. Everything was looking good. Now they want us to submit a resume and references by Monday. It caught me by surprise. I’m not taking it personally. I just want what’s best for Bosque Farms. I had other job offers, but this is my community. Now, in a matter of a few moments, the village council has done a lot of damage.

“It was a bad decision on the part of the council to table this issue. It puts doubt in employees,” Burkhard said. “It will be another month before we know if we were rehired. It hampers our effectiveness.”

Eldridge was unavailable for comment.

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Katherine Saltzstein