Hamilton Co. Administrator Patrick Thompson's contract not renewed

Patrick Thompson, Source: Hamilton County
Patrick Thompson, Source: Hamilton County

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County Commissioners voted 2-1 Monday not to renew the contract of County Administrator Patrick Thompson. Commissioners Greg Hartmann and Chris Monzel voted against renewing Mr. Thompson's contract, while Commissioner Todd Portune voted in favor.

"When I was sworn in earlier this month, I said that it would not be business as usual, that we needed new leadership, a new direction in Hamilton County," said Commissioner Monzel. "We certainly thank Patrick Thompson for his hard work for Hamilton County residents, but we believe this is the first step in developing that new direction."

Hartmann and Monzel also voted to appoint Assistant County Administrator Christian Sigman as the interim County Administrator.

"We will continue to assess county operations on a department-by-department basis," Monzel said. "We will work to identify new and innovative opportunities to get this county moving."

Commissioner Todd Portune released the following statement Monday:

" In a move eerily similar to the abortive effort to unseat County Administrator Bruce Jewett and others in Butler County January 3rd, and also to the termination of former Hamilton County Administrator David Krings, today a majority of the Hamilton County Commission, over my strong objection, terminated the service of County Administrator Patrick Thompson.  Pat Thompson has provided a steady hand guiding Hamilton County through turbulent waters over the past four years.  He oversaw and administered the reduction in force of over 1500 county employees and positions and a reduction in spending of almost $70 Million during the same time.  He skillfully orchestrated a reconfiguration of many county departments that enabled Hamilton County to meet state mandates; to run all operations overseen by independently elected officials; and to offer a full menu of services for people in need.  Above all he has been a decent Human Being, who loves this county; cares about its people and those who daily do the hard and often unappreciated work of public service.  He will be missed.

"I do not begrudge the right of the majority to make such a change. I do, however, vehemently object to the abuse of that power and to wielding it in a decision that was neither transparent nor smooth, and that will undoubtedly be disruptive toward the county's focus upon our critical and important issues at hand.

"Some have already begun the political spin that this is what happens in all governments when new partisan leadership takes control.  Don't buy the lie.  For one thing we need less partisanship, not more.  But for the other those arguments, to the extent they hold water, do not apply to local governments where the day to day affairs are overseen by professional, apolitical administrators, such as in County and most municipal and township governments.

"Today's decision was cast without any public discussion by the majority who seemed intent on saying as little about it as possible.  Rather than inspiring confidence in the decision, its manner of execution gives rise, not only to numerous questions about what was done today, but also about how this new county majority will exercise its control of the People's business.  I learned only today that this was being cooked up since mid-November.  Yet the facts are that the county administrator, and former Commissioner David Pepper, and I, were all intentionally misled as to the intentions of the new majority during the performance evaluations of the administrator and subsequent representations as to his retention.   No one disputes that the majority could make a change.  But such decisions should be dealt with in a manner that reflects an understanding of the impact they will make on the people involved as well as the organization.  The lives of several families were dramatically altered today without warning in a ruthless exercise of power.  It did not have to be played out as it was - a fact that does not speak well for how this county commission will interact as a body.  It is a terrible start to the new Board.

"At the end of the day our business is primarily about how we exercise the relationships we have for the common good.  It is about working together to achieve consensus.  It is about taking those steps, and articulating that vision, which works to inspire confidence, hope and promise so that others will act in ways that support one another, family and community.  Today's ambush on a kind and compassionate man, whether change is warranted or not, speaks ill of the capacity of this new Board majority to do any of those things.  Time will tell whether this is an aberration or a new modus operandi.

"We remain unclear as to why this was done.  The Board adopts direction, not the county administrator.  It is the administrator's job to implement the direction established by the Board.  So what is the "New Direction" that required today's ambush?  What is it that interim administrator Christian Sigman will do that Thompson could not once the Board adopts its policies?  How, and why, was Sigman chosen?  All questions that remains as unclear tonight as I write this as they were when this decision was unleashed earlier today.

"Perhaps all will be revealed as time passes by?  But even if it is, we don't need theater or drama.  The county needs sound, strong and stable leadership.  It needs common sense.  And when the tough decisions need to be made, as they surely will, it needs leadership that will make them openly, transparently, and with the tenets of human decency that Faith instructs us to deploy as we interact with one another.  This new county majority is young in its term.  But this way of doing business is already old."

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