Brand new Lewis County Public Utility District Commissioner Mike Hadaller had an interesting first action in office.
At a special meeting held on the public holiday of Jan. 2, he voted along with PUD Commissioner Michael Kelly to fire the utility’s manager Chris Roden.
Considering that it was Hadaller’s first meeting and that he had never worked with Roden, it is obvious that Hadaller took his marching orders from Kelly.
During last fall’s campaign, when Hadaller responded to questions from The Chronicle, again and again Hadaller said he would work with Kelly. He never mentioned working with the other commissioner, Ed Rothlin, or anyone else.
The Hadaller family has a long history in Lewis County, which includes honorable service by Dennis Hadaller as county commissioner. The family has a well deserved reputation for independence.
The question we have about Hadaller is whether he is going to continue to take his orders from Kelly in the future or will he exercise his own independent judgment as PUD commissioner?
There were signs that Kelly had a personal beef with Roden and we have received reports that Kelly has a list of other lower level PUD employees he wants Hadaller’s support in firing.
The role of the PUD commissioners is to set policy. They direct that policy through the manager. The manager works for the board, but the board does not hire and fire staff below the manager.
It’s the manager’s job to run the organization day to day, including the hiring and firing of other staff — it’s not the board’s job.
There something else just as important.
Lewis County PUD is a low profile organization for the most part, providing a service critical to the lives of families and businesses in our area.
The PUD is no place for a board member with a personal vendetta to be allowed to disrupt the entire organization.
At his second meeting, Jan. 3, Commissioner Hadaller along with Kelly and Rothlin took a wise step by appointing David Plotz as the new manager.
Plotz is a Chehalis product who then attended Washington State University. His father served the utility for 30 years. He brings a world-class resume of business and finance background.
Plotz’s wise first action showed that he is ready to take charge of the operations of the utility when he called in former manager Dave Muller and two others with business and management experience — Connie Bode and Doug Miller — to assist him in conducting a complete examination of the utility’s staffing levels, finances and operations with the hope of finding efficiencies and cost savings.
It would not be possible for the PUD commissioners to find a more qualified person who is more dedicated to our area than Plotz.
Now the best thing they can do for this county is to keep him in place and give him the latitude he’ll need.
Hadaller has an opportunity to play an important role in the future of Lewis County. We hope that soon we will start to see “Hadaller independence” from Mike.
The first test will be to see if Hadaller, along with the other commissioners, will give Plotz the time and support he will need to be a successful PUD manager.