Thank you, Dan Palmer, for being a wonderful Essex County manager. Now, please leave Elizabethtown and head back home to Minerva.
Two weeks after announcing that he plans to retire at the end of the year, Palmer changed his mind, saying on Dec. 17 that he’ll stay in his position if the Essex County Board of Supervisors reappoints him. Although he didn’t hand in an official resignation letter to the county, he did file retirement papers with the state.
Palmer’s decision to retire was emotionally charged. It was made amid the 2013 budget process. He and the board couldn’t agree on how to fix the financial crisis, so, like any disgruntled employee near retirement age, Palmer said, “No more!” and decided to hang up his hat.
To simply change his decision now and say, “Never mind,” is an irresponsible way to manage a county.
Dan, you’ve made your bed; now sleep in it. Retire, already.
We understand some supervisors have asked you to reconsider. We’d hope you would simply say, “No, thanks. My mind is made up. It’s been a pleasure, but I’m done with county service. Thanks for everything.”
Flip-flopping on your decision makes us question your motive. Are you playing politics? Trying to make a statement? The financial crisis in Essex County is too important for shenanigans or political games. What’s really going on?
Changing your retirement decision also sends a bad message to supervisors and taxpayers. If you come back to Elizabethtown, how can we take you seriously with serious matters such as the budget? Your credibility would be shot, your word worthless.
Like anyone in public or private service, we are all replaceable. None of us will live forever, and someone will eventually fill our positions. The Essex County manager is no different.
Palmer supporter Roby Politi — who called for the Dec. 17 executive session meeting to ask Palmer to stay — told the media that the job of finding a replacement is “insurmountable.” We don’t think so. There are many people in this state qualified to manage counties. There may actually be someone currently employed by Essex County who is qualified.
And, in replacing Palmer, county leaders may just see a cost savings in salary and benefits. Has anyone actually compared Palmer’s $118,000 salary plus benefits with managers overseeing counties of similar size?
Wasn’t there a time not so long ago that the job was handled by the chairman of the board?
Perhaps Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava is right in his assessment that the position is not needed at all. These are trying financial times in Essex County, and if Scozzafava, the county’s budget liaison, is recommending doing away with the post, then it should be taken seriously.
Don’t get us wrong. Our opinion here has nothing to do with Dan Palmer’s quality of work. We’re not saying he was a bad manager. In fact, we think the supervisors should have listened to him more when it came to budget negotiations.
Given the current situation, a reappointment would simply be too little, too late. Supervisors can’t ignore the county manager at budget time then beg for his return after he announces retirement. Supervisors, you had your chance, and you blew it.
We admired Palmer for his “Take this job and shove it” stance, deciding to “retire” gracefully at the end of the year instead of “resigning” rudely and walking out the door with his middle finger in the air. Dan, don’t take that away from us. Stick to your guns.
We want a well-run county, but we also want Dan Palmer to be happy. We’d like to see him smile more; he never seems to want to smile for photos we take of him on the job. Maybe some time away from Essex County government will help. Happy retirement, Dan, we hope. And a heartfelt thank-you to you and your wife, Deborah, who will retire at the end of the year as the Board of Supervisors clerk, for your county service.