Boy how time flies! It was almost three years ago that the financial problems being faced by Neosho began to surface.

Boy how time flies! It was almost three years ago that the financial problems being faced by Neosho began to surface.

And while it was somewhat hidden from the headlines for the past three years, the city has been involved in a variety of disputes with the former city manager that included his insistence that he was entitled to severance pay and health care as part of his employment contract.  This week, that issue was finally resolved by a Federal court and the last remaining pieces of this Blase dispute can now be filed away and put behind us for good. 

The good news is the judge agreed with the city and refused to order any severance pay for Mr. Blase.  Because his actions (of financial misconduct) gave the council good reason to terminate his employment, the judge ruled “…Neosho has established, as a matter of law…that it terminated Blase with cause.” For that, his request for nine months of severance pay was denied.

As to the health care portion of the dispute, the contract language wasn’t as clear. According to the judge, the contract language implied that the mere fact that he was terminated entitled Mr. Blase to post-employment health insurance benefits. While some may disagree as a matter of principle that his actions should entitle him to nothing, it ultimately came down to what the contract says. To me, it’s a small price to pay to finally be “done” with Mr. Blase once and for all.

As to the legacy and long-term impact to the financial issues he caused, we’ve all seen the significant progress being made to restore Neosho’s solid financial position.  While we will certainly be experiencing some lasting effects for years to come, we have survived. 

I want to finish with a few words I wrote in February 2010 – just after Mr. Blase was fired (and two months before I became your mayor):

“Thousands of people in our city are looking for leadership from our city government.  Leadership will move us forward.  Forward is the direction we must go.  That move forward will not be easy, but it must be done to save what remains of Neosho and to restore our city to what it can and should be.

Now is when we can begin to correct the past actions that put us here.  My commitment for success has never been stronger.  Working together with an understanding of what must happen is the key.  It will take all of us coming together to move forward.  Failure is not an option.”

We certainly didn’t fail!

Thanks Neosho for your continued support. Until next time: keep the faith, stay the course, and may God bless Neosho!

Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.