Out of line, over the line

From the outside looking in, it sure appears as if some of the recent criticism of Columbiana Mayor Brian Blakeman is off base.

Back in March, Councilman Dick Simpson said Blakeman was out of line for requesting to have a voice mailbox set up at City Hall. We realize that in a charter form of government, as Columbiana has, the mayor likely has little authority to do much, but is it outrageous for the city’s top-elected official to have an answering machine at City Hall for anyone trying to contact him? That’s a far cry from moving a desk into the city manager’s office, as Simpson sarcastically suggested might be Blakeman’s next move.

Then two weeks ago, Simpson accused Blakeman of trying to cut City Manager Lance Willard out of a meeting with a governor’s representative, who planned to visit Columbiana on April 21. Blakeman advised Willard of the visit in an email sent at 5:16 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, but Willard said he did not find out until April 18 and that was not enough time for him to rearrange his schedule.

Really? Unless Willard was out of town or also works for the White House, you would think he could have fit in 15 minutes somewhere. Besides, Blakeman said he had told Willard about the visit several times before sending the email, which was not disputed.

Then City Attorney Dan Blasdell piled on by telling Blakeman that Willard must be notified of these things well in advance because the manager is the “CEO of the town.” It seems Blakeman did exactly that.

We understand that Blakeman may rub some people the wrong way, but it appears his critics are the ones who are out of line this time.