August 2, 2021
Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad has responded to questions regarding a controversial email that City Council Member Claudia Ortega sent to Pocatello’s Human Resources Department Head Heather Buchanan last month. Ortega’s email contained, “…a list of potential positions to eliminate for streamlining purposes.” Along with the list of Pocatello city employees was a request for, “…the dollar amount associated to each one, so I can calculate total savings.”
After receiving questions from our readers, the Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer asked Mayor Blad for his comments regarding two aspects of the email.
First, given that the mayor is the City’s executive officer in Pocatello, we noted that questions regarding hiring and firing of personnel would appear to be the mayor’s responsibility. We asked, “What are your thoughts about a city council member getting involved in recommending city employees for termination, especially with this specificity, and is such action appropriate?”
Blad replied, “It’s not unusual for a Councilmember to have recommendations or suggestions for any part of the City budget. What is unusual is a Councilmember naming names of specific employees they would consider laying off.”
We then asked, “Have you seen an impact on employee morale because of Ms. Ortega’s email, and, if so, what has it been?
Blad replied, “Given the nature of the list, it’d be hard not to have an impact on morale. City employees are dedicated to making Pocatello a fantastic place to call home and I thank them for their commitment. What I’ve heard from employees is they are anxious about what the future holds.”
The Pocatello City Council City will continue with budget discussions at their regularly scheduled meeting set for this coming Thursday, August 5, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Time has been set aside at the meeting to receive public comments on the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 City Budget. The agenda for the meeting, which contains links to relevant documents, can be found, here: Pocatello City Council Meeting, August 5, 2021