A certain amount of understandable whining commenced Monday with formal acceptance of Katie Allgood’s resignation as the city of Hewitt’s embattled managing director of administration in exchange for a $110,000 settlement. The settlement is part of a broader separation agreement between the city and Allgood, who in turn agrees to dismiss a lawsuit alleging bias and sexual harassment, primarily involving then-Mayor Ed Passalugo and former Councilman Kurt Krakowian.
For those who can look past the usual grousing and grumbling, the settlement and months of rancor, deceit and chaos preceding it should serve as a word to the wise, especially those who contemplate time in public service or serve at the public pleasure now. Allgood and former city manager Adam Miles, an otherwise excellent city administrator, quite obviously contributed to this imbroglio through the affair that commenced between them at City Hall and beyond, arousing sore feelings as Allgood, qualified or not, progressed rapidly through the ranks.
While such relations between a supervisor and a subordinate are absolutely inappropriate, the bulk of the blame falls on the mayor and most of the previous council, who delayed correcting this situation upon first learning of it, then mishandled it as matters began deteriorating amid concerns of budgeting, taxation and city personnel. Given the hamfisted manner in which Passalugo and Krakowian reacted — and the failure of others on the council to demonstrate leadership in a time of crisis — it’s unfair to heap all blame on the City Hall lovebirds (though they deserve plenty).
Behold, voters: Elections do have consequences (though, in fairness, voters never elected Krakowian, who was appointed to his post and whose brief public service coincided with the beginning of strife and turmoil on the council). Happily, most council members to blame for this mess no longer serve.
In an interview with a member of the Trib editorial board, Michael Bancale, now a council member but then a candidate, nailed the problem: “If the council sees something — and in this instance, it’s a relationship between a superior and their direct subordinate — if the council sees something, which they all knew about at the latest in February 2018, they should immediately take action and say: ‘No, we don’t agree with this, we don’t support this, this needs to be changed.’ The council should have given an ultimatum no later than March 2018 and said to Adam Miles, ‘Your relationship with a subordinate is not proper for the city and one of you has to make a change.’ And the council did not do that.”
For those begrudging Katie Allgood her $110,000 settlement, fair enough. However, it’s unlikely with the notoriety generated she’ll easily gain the faith of another town council if she seeks to maintain her career in city administration. Then again, all this makes certain assumptions that other town councils are collectively brighter than the Hewitt City Council has been. Our experience is that, unfortunately, neither voters nor public servants really ever learn from history.