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Mayor, city manager tiff resolvable, both say


Both Joe Gall and Bill Middleton believe they can work through their issues, which reached a head during an exchange of emails

by: FILE PHOTO BY RAY PITZ - Both the city manager and mayor say they can patch up differences in management style.City Manager Joe Gall and Mayor Bill Middleton say they believe their professional relationship is salvageable, and both feel differences between the pair are resolvable.

Those comments come after Gall and Middleton exchanged a spat of emails in June, both questioning what the roles each should play in running the city of Sherwood.

“I think we’re doing pretty well, actually,” Gall said during a July 24 phone interview. “We’re back to the business we’re supposed to be working on. He’s been great.”

What brought tensions to a head was an email exchange where Gall took issue with a note from Middleton where the mayor told the city manager not to share an email from a citizen who complained about the Sherwood Police Department because “people fear retaliation from the police.”

Gall then pointed out that it wasn’t only Middleton who directs him on what to do; rather, he’s one of seven members of the Sherwood City Council.

“You were elected to be a mayor, not king,” Gall responded. “Please be the leader that I know you are capable of being please.”

Middleton responded by saying he no longer had faith in Gall, saying the city manager didn’t answer emails or phone calls from the mayor half of the time, and he called Gall’s comments offensive.

“You are trying to destroy this city before you move on as you stated in your news interview,” wrote Middleton. “Citizens would be better off if you move on.”

Gall said his final email on the subject urged the mayor and himself to talk in person and work through their issues, saying it has been a difficult time for everyone, so much so that he ended up in the hospital.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Bill Middleton

“I am sorry for my actions that have led us to this point and hope we can work through this,” Gall wrote. “Sherwood deserves it.”

The city manager said he never intended for the issues to go public, noting that the mayor has a strong personality and is still searching for how to best be an effective leader.

Now both say their relationship has improved since the June 21 emails.

Gall said he anticipated there would be a few bumps in the road when Middleton became mayor and brought in Ryan Hosley, a psychologist, coach speaker and author, to examine the core values of the council. Gall said he used the core values index – something he stressed is not the same as a personality test – at his previous job.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Joe Gall

“I used this in Fairview when our police department was going down this path,” said Gall.

He said the index simply showed the different categories of leadership that different members of a group tend to fall into.

Gall said he thought the first four months of the mayor’s first term went well with the pair working well together before things “went sideways.” That change was punctuated by differing views on how to best handle the budget.

In addition, the stress and outfall by some community residents over announced plans for a Walmart store only added pressure on the city manager and the Sherwood City Council, Gall said.

Mayor quarter way through term

For his part, Middleton said he believes the friction is resolvable.

He admits he’s opinionated and said when he’s gone through prior personality tests — as part of his former career as Sherwood’s first police chief and in his time in the U.S. military — all have shown he has a strong personality.

He said he believes he gets along pretty well with the other members of the Sherwood City Council.

Like Gall, Middleton admitted that there was tension going into the budget, pointing out that he was frustrated because he believes the city is in the process of “going down a path of destruction,” in part by not paying enough attention to maintaining city parks or other properties.

Related to the budget, Middleton said his major concern was that after he asked city staff for cuts in their departments, Gall largely ignored those requests.

Middleton said he still objects to the city manager, police officials and other staff traveling to out-of-town seminars as part of their jobs. “I don’t understand why we have to train these people,” he said. “It’s like a vacation spa…. ”

Regarding his comment that Gall should think about moving on, Middleton said he thinks differences can be resolved but wants the city manager to “start acting on things.”

“I don’t see any real issues with Gall,” Middleton said during an interview earlier in July. “If he does his job, I’ll be a happy man.”

Middleton said he believes his campaign promise for greater transparency in city government has been a success, pointing out that in the past it seemed as if events would occur in the city and residents would find out about them later. The mayor said his goal has been to communicate more with the public, something he feels he’s accomplished.

“I try to get back with every single person,” Middleton said.

Having recently marked six months as mayor, the mayor said he’s enjoying the job. “I’m loving it,” said Middleton. “I’m very happy.”

Gall admits that Middleton has made progress. “He’s done a lot of good things in his first six months in my opinion,” said Gall. “I certainly think (our disagreements are) resolvable.”

Sherwood City Council President Linda Henderson said she thinks the issues between Gall and Middleton can be patched up as well.

“I think that they’re working hard at being good communicators,” said Henderson. “We’re all extremely different.”

She said the meeting with psychologist Hosley was helpful in showing those differences.

Henderson said while she knew Middleton was dissatisfied with the budget, he should have spoken up sooner during the process.

“We’re certainly open to changes in the budget,” she said.

Henderson said she feels Middleton is communicating well with both the council and Gall. However, she pointed out, “It doesn’t mean they’re still not going to disagree.”