What in the world is going on inside Riverside Village Hall?

When department head after department head actively is out looking for new jobs – the latest to leave are two staffers, including the department head, in the finance department — you get the sense that all may not be peachy inside the halls of government.

But when things are so bad that an employee of the village – the administrative assistant to the village manager, no less – goes on a public web forum to complain about the behavior of an elected official … well, it stops you in your tracks.

One thing in particular is evident after looking through the documents that pertain to the employee’s complaints.

There appears to be a whole lot of hovering and micromanaging going on at village hall. While it’s laudable that elected officials in Riverside feel that invested in their jobs, the village manager form of government was set up to avoid this kind of personal intervention on a daily basis by elected officials.

Certainly, elected officials need to be kept in the loop and need to make sure the policies they are enacting are being carried out by employees. But elected officials have to let the employees they have hired do their jobs and not create an atmosphere where employees feel their every move is being second-guessed or, worse, gutting morale by simply being overbearing.

Step back a bit. Riverside is a small town. Elected officials, employees (in many cases) and residents are all neighbors. Their kids all go to school together, play on the same teams and moved to the village for the same reasons – the historic character, the schools.

There has got to be a mutual respect that is sacrosanct within the government of a village so small (or any government for that matter). No one, for any reason, needs to be belittled, berated or experience outbursts of yelling and profanity in the workplace, much less in the public workplace. That kind of behavior is simply unacceptable on any level.

Informality in the workplace? Certainly, things have become more informal in workplaces throughout the nation. But there has to be an underlying element of trust and respect at all times.

Being a government employee in an era where public employees are often unjustly under attack simply because they draw a public paycheck is tough enough. Government officials don’t have to make things tougher on one another by violating that rule of respect.

The village manager, village attorney and village president all believe that whatever complaints may have been lodged in the past are a matter of history. If they are still bubbling to the surface as pleas from employees on public web forums, perhaps that conclusion isn’t as firm as they think.

Elected officials represent all of Riverside and voters need to be able to have confidence that elected officials know how to comport themselves, even behind closed doors at village hall when no one from the public is looking.

Revelations like this erode that trust. And it’s difficult to gain back once the cat is out of the bag.