Doug Polen resigned from his position as manager of the Town of Mineral on Friday, March 15, after just eight months on the job, to become city administrator in Lenox, IA.
His resignation, effective March 29, was accepted by town council members, who agreed by e-mail vote that he should turn in his keys sooner. Mayor Pam Harlowe said that he will be paid through the effective resignation date.
Polen’s “official” resignation was e-mailed to all council members, with a cover note, and a second communication was sent to some council members citing issues that he has with the council’s mayor and vice mayor.
“To those of you on council who have been supportive of my endeavors to manage this town, I offer my heartfelt thanks,” Polen wrote. “To the ladies on the council who have not, I only ask that you treat my successor with respect, kindness, humility and grace. Let the town manager manage, or you will be hiring another one next year.”
In the second e-mail, Polen claimed that he has felt disrespected, demeaned and lied to by the council’s leadership, and expressed hope that behavioral changes would take place for his successor.
“Mineral is a fine town with great citizens and a hardworking staff deserving of quality leadership and grand vision, not petty squabbling and micromanaging,” he wrote.
Polen cites several examples in basing his claims, including comments that he said called into question his ability to manage.
The “straw that broke the camel’s back,” according to Polen, was an e-mail that he claims to have received from Wilson-Kube on Friday, March 8, while he was at home and ill.
According to Polen, that Friday, Wilson-Kube sent an e-mail to his personal account stating that “other than death, you should have been there today and since Tuesday. You do not appreciate your job.”
Wilson-Kube said that she did send an e-mail to the town manager. The town’s personnel code states that certain employees must report during an emergency. The March 7 snowstorm was declared an emergency.
According to Wilson-Kube, the town office was closed that Wednesday, but that on the following day, the town manager needed to be there to make sure that the parking lot and town hall were ready for the public, as well as sidewalks shoveled and trash collected.
The town hall was to open at 10 am. on that Thursday, and Kube said that maintenance staff had not been instructed to take proper measures.
“He is within walking distance of the place,” said Wilson-Kube. “I am not supposed to be the one up at the town hall directing the employees. It’s not my job, but someone had to do it.”
Dr. William Thomas, councilman, serves on the personnel committee with Wilson-Kube, but would not comment on matters of personnel.
“He did a real good job and we’re real pleased with him, however, to go to another town is his decision,” Thomas said. “There’s always, at any organization, differences of opinion. I think really, in Mr. Polen’s case, he felt he couldn’t turn down this job.”
Councilman Roy Lee Payne expressed disappointment in seeing Polen go.
“I thought he was doing a good job,” Payne said, “I am well aware that there are problems that exist within council.”
Wilson-Kube said that she has not mistreated Polen during his tenure, but had found communicating with him frustrating at times.
Read The Central Virginian’s March 21 issue for the rest of the story