City could have taken disciplinary action seven months ago

Published 7:47am Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Bainbridge City Council and mayor took disciplinary action against City Manager Chris Hobby Tuesday night at their meeting, suspending Hobby for one week without pay.
This comes after an open records request was sent to Hobby’s office, asking for details surrounding his payments on his utility bills, for which he had been delinquent for a 32-month period from 2011 to October 2013.
It came to light that Hobby was paying his personal utility bills with the city annually and not monthly as he should have been and seemingly his water was not shut off.
Five residents came to the meeting Tuesday to address the council about Hobby’s delinquency and several called for his termination.
The action the Bainbridge City Council took, suspending Hobby for one week, was certainly appropriate and was deserved. But why was Hobby given this reprimand in May 2014 and not when the problem was discovered internally by the city in September 2013?
When city leaders discovered Hobby’s payment habits in September, Hobby has since gone on to create an auto-draft account to ensure he pays on time.
While Hobby was asked to start getting his payments auto-drafted certainly fixes the problem of his non-payments, it does not show that any disciplinary action was ever taken, or that anyone ever felt that was warranted.
We have to ask the council — did they only take disciplinary action because this situation came to public light and the public responded negatively?
If it was truly the council’s idea to suspend Hobby and not the outcry of the public that prompted them to take this sort of action, it can be assumed they would have taken this action more than seven months ago when it was known internally.

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