February 15, 2013 by wcobserver
Woody Allen never met Michael “Butch” Bartholomew. If he had he might not have offered up his often repeated quip, “80% of success is showing up.”
In the little town of West Fork, Arkansas, Mr. Bartholomew is surely counted among the successful. He has a nice home in a nice neighborhood, has real estate investments, serves on various boards and is known throughout the region as the face of West Fork. But his most salient sign of success is his job. As head of water and sewer and almost every other city function, he has managed, over his forty year career, to install himself in a position that is beyond review or evaluation. He is untouchable.
It’s the fantasy of every working guy or gal to have that high paying job where no one tells you what to do. No boss. No job evaluation. No accountability. Job security without an employment contract. A job where you and your secretary’s are the only signatures needed on your pay check.
Sure, there is a city council, but the city’s organizational structure doesn’t recognize them as having authority over Mr. Bartholomew because he is paid by the unelected, autonomous water commission. Never mind, it’s complicated.
On the morning after the council voted 7-1 to “table” acting on the peoples demand for an ordinance to dissolve the water commission and bring water and sewer under public control, this blogger stopped in Jakes Café around 9 a.m. The Big Table was packed. Along with several council members (one of them hosting the event) were enough water commission members to have a quorum. Strategically seated in the middle of this gathering of admirers was what may be the towns most successful man; the utilities superintendent. No pesky boss was telling him to go to the office and get some work done.
Anyone familiar with the town knows the two facts of life here. One is that summer time means kids will be jumping off the bluffs into the river at Riverside Park and two, the successful Mr. Bartholomew, spends much of his work day not showing up at the office.
Woody was wrong on this one.