City Hall has been “slow-rolling” the fire situation


This is an update to the situation involving the Fire Department, Rural Fire District and the City of West Liberty. All indications are that City Hall (the city manager and attorneys) is putting more effort into looking busy than focusing on getting things done. Real progress is not actually being made.

City Hall (not the current council or mayor) has been “slow-rolling” this situation for about five years now. We believe that information is being kept from the real decisionmakers since the mayor and council members have publicly reported not knowing what the holdup is and believing that this was already resolved.

An article with pictures of the mayor and council at the time celebrating the agreement was published in this newspaper months ago. Why is final resolution of this important situation being slow-rolled?

Decisions are not being put before the mayor and council to finish this up. We know our mayor and council members and we know that they actually want to get this resolved. It appears that the mayor and council do not want to slow roll this.

Having meetings and talking “at” the Fire Department and Rural Fire District rather than “with” them to prevent real progress by slow-rolling is clearly an act of bad faith.

It is our belief that this situation is at a point where it can be finished up with only one or two meetings maximum if the parties and their lawyers are actually engaged and in the same room having an interest in getting this done.

City Hall has refused to have such a meeting up to this point. That fact has been kept from the public for reasons unknown to us. Those that want to get this done hope that this will change.

We propose that these one or two meetings be held publicly so that the public can see for themselves how this is resolved and to prevent further slow-rolling and gaslighting.

A meeting at the Community Center could be open to the public and appropriate so that the public can observe and motivate the parties to make real progress.

We do not understand why City Hall will not permit the mayor and council to have such a meeting other than that it could expose the slow-rolling and gaslighting to the residents. It has been regularly requested and always refused.

Issues cannot be resolved if the City refuses to meaningfully engage. City Hall has multiple lawyers and great resources at its disposal. It does not need more time or resources to get this done. Slow-rolling only enriches the city’s lawyers at the expense of the taxpayers and delays accountability for City Hall in getting this done.

I am one lawyer practicing in West Liberty – born and raised in West Liberty alongside many of you. I returned over 20 years ago after college and law school and started a law practice here to work for the residents of my hometown.

I am not being paid for doing my part to keep the fire and ambulance service we respect and trust – they have earned it.

I want this done but I have a responsibility for this to be done right. The Fire’s interests were not considered back in 2019 when the City first turned its efforts and resources against them.

I appeared on their behalf for that reason. I have no interest other than getting this done fairly, but I don’t let my clients get steamrolled or taken advantage. Results are expected and enough is enough. Let’s get it done.

William B. Tharp

Tharp Law Office