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Does the Morganton Mayor and Council response in Sunday’s News Herald regarding a fraudulent employment application sound like the hand-washing that that made Pontius Pilate infamous, some 2100 years ago? It states, “To be perfectly clear: the members of the city council were not involved in any way… with employee hiring…” Their letter went on to explain that these elected leaders hire and fire only the city manager and city attorney.

Their rationalization both omits and states positions that should concern all readers. The omission is, where is the accountability of a city manager and attorney who prepare an employment application form with the standard human resources warning, “… you swear that the information you provide is true and…if you lie, you are subject to dismissal,” but fail to enforce it. Are the mayor and council holding the city manager accountable for not fulfilling her responsibility?

The stated position of the mayor and council is symptomatic of what’s going wrong at all levels of government today, from Congress down to town councils. In this case, the apparent message is, if an employee is a well-liked, if he would have been paid the same whether he lied to get the job or not, and if he did satisfactory work during the three years that he hid the lies – even though one lie had to do with a phony award to embellish his performance – then the normal ‘termination-for-cause’ outcome gets commuted to a slap on the wrist. Do you wonder how this would have played out if the employee who falsified his application had been in a lower-level position, or if he had been of minority race?

The concern should not be limited to CoMMA employees, volunteers and sponsors, or even to other Morganton employees and residents, but should also concern residents of any of the smaller municipalities in the News Herald readership area, that look to Morganton as a governance role model. The mayor and council of the largest town in Burke, McDowell and Rutherford counties have now gone on record with their position regarding employment standards.

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