City: Do a special exception and make Main Street hire

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

Natalie Garcia

Coldwater varsity basketball coach Fred Hobart made a striking comment in the heat of a basketball battle between his Cardinals and Albion High School in January 1979. Hobart was whistled for a technical foul because he stood up and walked along the sideline to give instructions on what play he wanted his team to run offensively.

He received the tech because he violated the rule then that confined coaches to their benches. Hobart acknowledged he was guilty, but asserted, “Good refereeing is an art, not a science.”

I believe Hobart’s protest applies to the Wayland City Council’s failure last month to appoint Natalie Garcia as interim director of the local Main Street program through the Downtown Development Authority.

Garcia at first appeared to be approved in a vote for the temporary post, but the city charter revealed that it is illegal to hire anyone who is related to a city official unless the council approves it unanimously. She was confirmed by a 5-1 vote, with Tracy Bivens dissenting, so the charter rule negated her appointment.

The proposal to hire Garcia as interim was only to secure someone in place until a permanent director can be found. DDA Director Teryl Sheilds had resigned the post earlier this winter.

I understand the desirability of avoiding nepotism in local government, but this appeared to be a special case. I think it would have been better to approve Garcia because it would be for an indefinite brief period until a permanent director can be found.

Making things worse, the annual Main Street celebration, Wayland’s showcase event to bring people downtown, is scheduled to take place July 16. Without a director in charge of the planning, it will be even more difficult to have the event, which several years ago replaced the old Summerfest celebrations.

Ms. Garcia, wife of Councilman Abe Garcia, lives in this community and is blessed with marketing, advertising, speaking and promotion skills on her impressive resume. Because it’s only a temporary gig for her, it seems to be prudent to let her do the job until a permanent hire can be accomplished.

Apparently, quality public service is an art, not a science.


  • If all that’s at stake is Wayland’s annual Drunk Fest, big deal! Give the police and EMTs a break. No reason to go uptown except the Hotel or Mc Duffs.

    • Dennis, I’m very disappointed in you, referring to this celebration as a Drunk Fest. Your statement is totally unfounded, shame on you.
      PS: Peace my friend.

      • Burrell I know you are a retired Wayland mayor. You want things to be like they were back then. Never going to happen! I wish Wayland could be the town it was during your time also. I have a lot respect for you, always have.

  • It would be interesting to know why Ms Bivins was the dissenting vote.
    Anyone who knows Ms Garcia’s abilities knows how ignorant it is to let this temporarily opportunity slip away.
    Of course, if the residents of Wayland believe as Mr. Longstreet does, the future of any celebration similar to the Main Street Celebration will no longer be. It’s now up to the citizens of Wayland to make an exception if they hope to have the event.

    • Harry all you have to do is talk to the reserve police hired for that weekend and you will get the whole story. I know many of them.

      • Mr Longstreet
        I’m sure if you talk to any security personnel at large or small events there are stories to tell.
        Now if one approaches these “tales of woo” rationally. I don’t remember any brawls, riots, businesses being damaged/ looted, etc.
        Sure there were the occasional person arrested / removed for intoxication, use of a controlled substance, etc. That happens quite frequently on a daily basis in the fair city of Wayland.
        To “paint” the Main Street Celebration or any public event as a gathering place for the “undesirables ” is just wrong.
        By hiring experienced security personnel most large events have no major problems . The city of Wayland is changing with the times, its public events that attract people to come to know the area and help enhance it’s growth.
        Wayland is no longer ” a bump in the road”……

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