Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Carthage employee letters back Rife, Dagnan, accuse council of personal agenda involving former parks director

Carthage City Council members are expected to take the next steps in their efforts to impeach Mayor Dan Rife and fire City Administrator Greg Dagnan during a special meeting 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in city council chambers.

City employees appear to be strongly against those steps judging from two letters issued this week- one from the Carthage Fire Department and the other from many of the other city workers.

The Fire Department letter, signed by Fire Chief Ryan Huntley and Deputy Fire Chief Jason Martin.

"We are ready to go on the record as extremely supportive of Mayor Dan Rife and City Administrator Greg Dagnan. They have earned our trust through their genuine efforts to improve our services to this community."

The letter concluded with praise for City Attorney Nate Dally and administrative assistant Dorothy Weber, who have announced their resignations.

The other letter, the first letter to be published, was reportedly signed by 60 of 88 city employees, according to KSNF/KODE.

In it, the employees accuse the seven council members who voted to fire Dagnan at last week's meeting, Tiffany Cossey, Terri Heckmaster, Alan Snow, Derek Peterson, Dustin Edge, Tom Barlow and Jana Schramm of offering no reasons for impeaching Rife or firing Dagnan and of calling in police department employees to discuss "an active investigation."

While the letter mentions no names, it is clear the investigation that is referred to involves former parks director Mark Peterson, who is facing charges of stealing, money laundering and leaving the scene of an accident in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The personal agenda of the group appears to align with one particular family member of the newly appointed council.

That seems to refer to Mark Peterson's son, Derek Peterson, who was elected to the council earlier this month.

The city employees' letter is printed below.

“To the Members of the Carthage City Council,

We, the undersigned employees of the City of Carthage, submit this letter to express our unanimous support for our department heads, including the Mayor, City Administrator, Assistant City Administrator, and City Attorney. 

This declaration of support is presented voluntarily by each of us, without any coercion, and reflects our honest and professional opinions based on our experiences within the city administration.

After careful consideration, particularly considering discussions and presentations at the last two council meetings, we feel compelled to affirm that at no point have we observed or been part of any actions or decisions that were illegal, unethical, or contrary to the interests of the citizens of Carthage. 

Each decision and policy enactment we have witnessed has been conducted with the utmost integrity and with the best intentions for the city’s welfare. 

However, we do feel that multiple council members have recently violated the City’s ethics ordinance by contacting City staff to notify them that their job is safe “for now,” by requesting police employees to report to the council meeting to answer questions about an active police investigation, and for requesting the removal of City staff members without cause.

There have been allegations of mistrust in the Mayor, City Administrator, and City Attorney. We would like to state that our mistrust currently lies with the council members who are attempting to remove City leaders without providing any evidence of wrongdoing. 

These actions have led to many City employees being fearful of their employment if a precedent is set of removing employees without cause. To be clear, we fully support Mayor Rife, City Administrator Greg Dagnan, and City Attorney Nate Dally and have no mistrust in them as leaders and City staff members. We are not hostages of this current administration, but rather employees who enjoy working together under their leadership.

Due to this mistrust in most of the City Council, we are on the verge of losing multiple employees to other organizations. While these positions can eventually be replaced, you cannot replace the many years of knowledge, experience, and dedication that these employees have. Our organization has operated more efficiently and productively in the last two years than it ever has in recent memory. We feel that your actions will lead to a drop in employee morale, a halt of important City projects, and a decrease in efficiency and productivity.

We believe that the leadership and guidance provided by our department heads have been exemplary and in full alignment with the city’s codes and ethical standards. The allegations or implications of misconduct discussed in recent meetings do not reflect the reality of our day-to-day operations and the transparent governance we are part of.

We believe that certain council members are using their elected positions to push a personal agenda that is not in the best interest of the City employees or the citizens of Carthage. The personal agenda of the group appears to align with one particular family member of the newly appointed council. We understand that the council members pushing this agenda were elected by registered voters of the City of Carthage, but we believe that the City employees should have a voice in the matter. We work here, most of us live here, and we certainly pay taxes here.

We stand ready to continue our duties, to collaborate on all fronts, and to uphold the high standards set forth by our city’s founders and continued by the current leadership. Please accept this letter as a vote of no confidence in the seven council members who have voted to remove our Mayor, City Administrator, and City Attorney by every undersigned employee.

Thank you for considering our collective viewpoint.


Anonymous said...

Nearly 70% of employees signed a letter indicating they have zero confidence in the clown show the city council has become. This all stems from the CWEP and a man charged with a serious crime. I wonder if the Missouri AG's office is going to step in and remind Cossey and Company that is crime to intimidate or attempt to intimidate a witness. It is also a crime to interfere in the judicial process. Cossey is a tax lawyer, not a street lawyer. If she's interfering with a case, she needs disbarred.

Anonymous said...

If so many people in Carthage are against what the "NEWLY ELECTED" council members are doing (trying to get rid of the mayor & city administrator) - how were these people able to get elected with their stated agenda?????

It seems that the new elected council members are following through on their campaign promises.

Anonymous said...

This serves as an excellent reminder to always have a friend who will tell you if you're about to say something exceptionally dense. May you all find that person in life, and should you ever pen something that needs a second set of eyes before it goes public, may they interject with enough weight to prevent you looking like an idiot.

Anonymous said...

1:26 PM Why did you not follow the advice that you gave????

Anonymous said...

Their agenda was only known if you were watching city council meetings or following the PAC on FB. If you voted based on the literature in your mailbox or the number of signs you saw around town you had no idea this was what would happen. Even the candidate FB pages hid the fact that this was their agenda.