As a parent in District 300, the district sends out regular emails with updates on happenings in and around the schools, both district wide and specific to the schools my children attend. The most recent one was an announcement that October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and it encouraged parents to read and learn about Bullying, and Bully-Prevention. I thought it appropriate to put this out to Save Carpentersville Readers as well, as we have a serious issue with bullying in our Village. Trying to teach our kids that Bullying is wrong, while turning the other way when it’s an adult being a bully isn’t a good message to send our kids.
What bothers me most is that our Trustees know Bullying is wrong, our Village President was an educator in District 300 for decades, and routinely taught students that bully behavior is wrong, even one of our trustees recently admitted that they had experienced work-place bullying, and yet, they allow the perpetrator to continue doing what he does. In case any new readers haven’t had the opportunity to read some of the past posts on this subject, here’s a short re-cap:
Our former HR Director, Ms. Linda Mogren, submitted a complaint about Village Manager Rooney, which was not the first of it’s kind, in which she described Manager Rooney: “Manager Rooney practices a style of “Management by Crisis” that is corrosive and undermines the ability, even willingness, of capable employees to perform their jobs because they fear his irrational, unpredictable and frequently hostile and threatening responses to their professional and reasonable actions. Manager Rooney prefers to work in an atmosphere of fear, hostility, unpredictability, intimidation, and manipulation that makes employees less effective in their jobs, especially if doing their jobs might require disagreeing with the manager. He motivates employees through fear rather than effective leadership.” There really doesn’t need to be any further explanation about this. And the investigation itself seemingly backs this up. According to that report, the investigator found that there are independent accounts of Manager Rooney’s style being, “perceived as being AGGRESSIVE, MOODY, QUICK tempered, overly direct, even intimidating and in-sensitive.” Between Ms. Mogren’s complaint and the independent investigation, it’s fair to say that the facts show Manager Rooney is a Bully towards employees at all levels in the Village.
The ramifications for our Village may not be readily apparent, but suffice it to say, that this kind of behavior stifles debate and stops creative solutions in their tracks. That is not the kind of leadership we need in this Village, given the number and complexity of issues that the Village faces.
I call on our current Trustees, especially President Ritter, to take a stand against Bullying, to show our residents and our children that Bully’s never prosper and aren’t rewarded for their behavior, and to terminate his contract (or at least not renew it … isn’t it up for renewal this month?)
Countless studies show that employees who are treated well perform above and beyond expectations, just as students perform better in an environment free from Bullying. As residents and ultimately the “customer,” engaged Village employees effect us on a multitude of levels – everything from bringing in more businesses, creative solutions to economic issues which lower taxes, more effective labor negotiations in the Village’s favor, higher productivity (better roads, water and sewer – as an example,) honestly – the list is endless, and essentially everything the Village lacks right now. Because October is anti-bullying month, I think this is a good time to discuss this topic – and ways that they should be addressed in our Village. As a candidate for Trustee, and if elected, I will push for a number of initiatives that show Carpentersville as a leader in employer-employee relations. The fact is that our Manager’s campaign to destroy the public image of employees in the Village has done more to hurt the Village than almost any other topic – he has been dishonest and engaged in behaviors that have driven away good, hard working people that did great work for the People of our Village. It’s time to change that to something Positive, and proving that we as a Village can be a leader in a good way will do a lot to bring quality people to serve us.
- Develop and Institute an Anti-Bully Policy in the Village, with zero tolerance and a defined, tiered disciplinary structure. Of course, as part of this program, we need a Village Manager with a proven track record of good and positive behavior. Luckily, our Village already has this in it’s Assistant Village Manager. It doesn’t make much sense to allow a Bully to administer an anti-bully initiative, therefore, I’d suggest removing Manager Rooney, promoting Assistant Manager Wade who is widely respected, both internally and in the eyes of the community, and eliminating the Assistant Village Manager position for a significant cost savings as a bonus.
- Institute a Village wide Trustee-Employee committee, charged with developing “good employee behavior policies,” recommending reward systems for employees who exemplify those “good employee” behaviors, and ensuring that open lines of communication develop and are maintained between Trustees and Employees. The reality is, employees are people too, and quite a few (more than people would think) are residents in the town as well, so having a good working relationship between employees and the trustees ensures that things like contract negotiations aren’t a contentious process. A good relationship means that both sides aren’t “stuck” on their positions, and promotes a process in which the Village is able to secure labor cost effectively and that employees feel as though they are part of something bigger – and ultimately the residents win as costs go down and taxes go down as well.
- Incentive for non-management employees whose ideas/solutions lead to measurable increase in a service the Village provides while at the same time decreasing the cost of that particular area of the budget. This really isn’t a new concept – businesses use it on a regular basis to boost creative thinking among employees in order to control costs and create good morale in the form of end of year “bonuses.” While this idea requires a healthy debate, I would suggest an incentive of 1% of the total saved (so if employee’s ideas saved $1000.00 from the budget, they would get a $10.00 bonus.) I understand the counter-point, rewarding employees with a bonus for doing their job doesn’t make good business sense, however, this incentive is for the employees who go above and beyond – who look creatively at our budgets and devise solutions they wouldn’t normally be required to for their job. Our employees have a unique understanding of the workings of the Village, and even though it may not fall under their job requirements, their understanding can give them the tools to come up with unique solutions. The reality is that the more money the village can save on services through creativity, the less the residents and businesses have to pay through taxes. A small cost for big savings is always worth it.
- I’m a fan of committees – they work. If we look at the audit and finance commission as an example – instituted by the Trustees several boards ago as a means to fix some seriously flawed financial audits and headed by current Trustee Humpher, it was undeniably a huge success. Unfortunately, residents get a 5 minute period of time to bring issues forward, but there is no discussion, and honestly very little ever gets done about those issues. And frankly, our residents have some great ideas too! We need a resident advisory committee, something I’ve promoted previously. Having a group of residents/trustees that can accept those ideas and solutions, allows an outlet for people to submit their ideas and discuss them with someone, and the committee can take the ideas that would be successful and present them to the Village Board as a whole for a yes/no vote to implement.
- As silly as it sometimes sounds, having an “employee of the month” can do wonders to bring attention to people who work hard every day but garner little attention. A Village is a team – with a lot of people that have to work in harmony in order for things to work well. Just as most sports have an “MVP,” so should the Village, and I’d like to see a section of the wall in the Village Hall that at least one exceptional employee per month can be showcased for our Village residents and business leaders to see. Internal and external recognition of employees can only serve to boost morale and increase productivity.
- Yearly Village Picnic for all village employees, held at Carpenter Park, and open to the public. One of the things that employees often look forward to is annual picnics when companies have them, as it gives them a chance to meet the other employees – the other “team players” that they don’t normally see. Bringing family and inviting the residents to participate also creates more community cohesion and can be used as a time to showcase the people that make the Village run day in and day out.
Bullying is a major problem in the workplace in america. It affects 30 million working Americans. Implementing changes like this is a first step to improving employee morale. As residents, we pay for poor Village morale and poor management. Yet we benefit both in services and financially from good morale. Making these changes would set the Village up for a period of growth, and drive the Village to being able to lower taxes through more efficient use of our dollars.