Sunnyside has finally rid itself of the Thomas Paul affair to the tune of a $139,000 settlement. Legal fees have equaled that sum and more, meaning a conservative estimate for the total cost to the city for this five-year struggle is somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000.
Yes, the settlement amount will be paid out of grant monies. But that means there might be $139,000 less for other parts of the South First Street project.
Kudos to interim City Manager Mark Kunkler and the current city council for biting the bullet and coming to terms with Paul, buying a portion of the property he has claimed as his and allowing him to erect a commercial billboard.
In a little over six months, Kunkler and company have accomplished what the previous city manager could not do in three plus years on the job.
The difference was a willingness to negotiate, to soften a stance against Paul in contrast to the previous manager's reign, which saw city crews uproot Paul's political signs.
The city and its taxpayers are still paying the penalty of a city manager poorly chosen. That includes funding legal expenses for the Paul case-and who knows how many other suits brought during the previous manager's tenure-and in paying the former city manager even now for wages, insurance and a monthly car allowance.
The taxpayers are still counting the cost for the previous choice every time they in vain try to contact city hall on a Friday, or drive a two-lane highway through the middle of town.
If your blood's boiling just thinking of all this, good.
Unlike last time around, you the public will have a chance to meet the four finalists for the city manager post. There will be no out-of-state council junkets this time to determine the next pick.
The city will hold a meet and greet for the four finalists on Thursday, May 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the community center.
Meet the final four.
Ask them questions.
If you're still unsure, Google their names to see what they've done in the previous cities they worked for.
Tell the city council what you think and encourage them not to sell the farm as the previous council did when it offered a gold-plated contract to the previous city manager.
If you were frustrated with the previous city manager, you blamed council.
If you become frustrated with the new city manager selection, you'll blame yourself if you're not there May 15 to meet the candidates.
Save the date, Thursday, May 15.
If you do, you might save yourself some frustration and may help save the city from counting the cost of another poor hire.