No one cares about Doug Thomas’s career. (No one cares about mine either, by the way.) No one cares what he or Gow thinks about how Thomas is handling the “challenges” of the anarchy he’s allowed to take over Lakeland city government. No one cares about the Bruce-PAC sham Thomas and Gow dreamed up to use as precisely the bureaucratic weapon they’re using it as now. (Honestly Bruce, you’re willing to go to the mat to protect this? Bow out gracefully so they’ll stop using you.) No one cares what city commissioners did or did not say about Bruce-PAC way back in the dark ages before anyone had ever heard of Tommy Hamrick and Julio Pagan. No one cares what incompetent accreditors say.
And no one cares about Thomas’ 158-point strategic framework to create a process to begin to figure out the detailed performance matrix that will help police officers or human resources directors or whomever else understand that they really shouldn’t behave abusively toward women or ignore, harass, and mock people trying to report it.
But apparently no one has bothered to tell the city manager any of this.
It’s a masterpiece of bureaucratic narcissism.
It takes most unctuous umbrage at Wiggs for not watching a microsite web video. A microsite web video.
But it can’t muster any unctuous umbrage on behalf of the woman Doug Thomas’ armed employee is accused of stalking and sexually abusing while a number of Doug Thomas’ other employees — including a recently promoted sergeant — ignored and/or laughed at her. It can’t muster any unctuous umbrage at the “leadership” of Chief Palin, errr, Womack, who knew how appalling the mocking police phone tape was and refused to release it because it was part of an “investigation.” Nor can Thomas muster any unctuous umbrage for the experience of the people subjected to Thomas’ handpicked HR director.
In fact, to my knowledge, Thomas has never once turned to the public and said, “On behalf of the government I have led for a decade, I’m sorry. I’ll fix this.” I’m not aware that he has expressed a second of shame about anything. The entirety of his existence since this all broke in June has focused on fighting to avoid blame and keep his job. Because, you know, leadership.
Look at this passage.
My job as City Manager is to professionally lead and oversee the operations of this organization and I will continue to do so to the best of my abilities during these trying times. I have carried out exactly what I committed to do dating back to the July 22 Town Hall Meeting. I reaffirmed that same path of action with the consent of the City Commission at their August 5th meeting and we are within weeks of completing that process.
That says it all. Lots of “action” he can point to taking without producing a single result beyond firing people he had no choice but to fire because victims or Jerry Hill forced his hand. Thomas gave himself bureaucratic busy work and is now calling it reform. He acts like this is some run-of-the-mill commissioner/manager squabble over zoning or a budgeting process — not an existential crisis for city government.
Imagine if Doug, back in June, had simply said, “I’m sorry and ashamed this has happened. These are my employees. And I must restore honor to government I lead. Please give me six months to change this broken culture. At the end of that time, I want you to hold a vote on my future.”
I know it’s hard to imagine that he could say anything in five direct sentences. But if he had taken that level of responsibility and looked the people who pay him in the eye, maybe he’d have more good will right now. I know I would be more sympathetic, even if I still thought he needed to leave. That approach would have emphasized morality and tangible results for Lakeland, not busy work for Thomas and Bruce-PAC and Larry Ross, as the core of internal reform. It would have shown he was trying to earn back respect. But it didn’t happen.
Thomas has never stopped seeing this from the point-of-view of his own personal and professional interest. And now Howard Wiggs has made the mayoral election a referendum on Doug and Chief Palin. It’s the logical extension of the Doug-first approach to crisis management. The only question is will Thomas leave if Wiggs wins the election. Or will he ignore the political will of the city he’s supposed to serve?
And let’s just consider this final passage.
“The City of Lakeland has accomplished tremendous success during my tenure as City Manager through a productive and collaborative relationship with the City Commission, and I am confident that this foundation will enable us to successfully resolve our current challenges as well.”
Nothing says “accomplished tremendous success” like a government organization falling apart under the forces of its own abusiveness and impotence after you’ve led it for 10 years. Especially in a city overflowing with structural advantages.
And listen to the hint of ominousness in the arrogance.
You can’t live without me. You’ll be sorry.
No, I don’t think so. I’m willing to risk it.