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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 17 years and 233 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Slavin Management Consultants, the firm hired for the city manager search, should be presenting its list of finalists to the city council at any time. What should the Glendale city council consider in choosing finalists?

During my 16 years on city council I worked with various interim and permanent city managers, Dr. Martin Vanacour, Ed Beasley, Horatio Skeete and Dick Bowers. I never worked with Brenda Fischer which was probably a good thing. I think we would have butted heads from day one and I quickly would have been at the top of her *hit list.

What qualities did these city managers possess that served them, the city council and the people of Glendale well? One major quality was that of responsiveness to anyone and everyone. Under Dr. Vanacour it didn’t matter if a citizen was a ditch digger or stock broker. If a citizen called his office, without fear or favor, every issue received a quick and efficient response. Sometimes an issue was resolved to the citizen’s satisfaction…sometimes not but every issue got an answer…not in weeks but in days. The same occurred with councilmember questions and requests.

Another quality that stood Dr. Vanacour, and now Dick Bowers, in good stead there was, and is, no favoritism shown toward any councilmember. All were, and are, treated equally and with respect. Information provided to one councilmember was also provided to the rest of the council. Neither had or has a reporting system where employees are required to report every interaction with a councilmember to the city manager’s office.

Council requires a city manager that shares information willingly and openly and in a timely manner with city council and citizens. Many of council’s previous decisions during the tenure of Ed Beasley were made in either a vacuum or with ginned up information designed to get council to approve a specific outcome. Dr. Vanacour practiced sharing complete information and Dick Bowers is doing the same. If Dick Bowers were willing, Glendale could not do better than to hire Dick Bowers on a permanent basis. However, Mr. Bowers is retired. He graciously agreed to serve short term in Glendale’s hour of need. He wants to be retired once again and to spend time with his family and friends. He’s earned it.

The next city manager must show that he or she truly respects and values all employees within the Glendale governmental family. For too long Glendale’s employees have experienced a work atmosphere based upon fear and favoritism. The city manager must show no bias toward any specific department and make financial resource decisions and recommendations to council based upon the most effective use of taxpayer dollars.

The city manager’s fiscal philosophy should be a conservative one. He or she should believe, as a core principle, that a government’s fiscal decisions are not based on tax increases or growing the size of government. Glendale has learned the hard way that it’s not the size of government that determines the quality of service to its citizens. It learned that the same superior service delivery can be accomplished despite the reduction in the number of employees delivering the service. It’s an individual’s commitment to excellence that counts…not the number of employees on the payroll.

Council should look for a city manager with extended experience, intelligence and adaptability. The last thing the city needs is someone who has been a department head or assistant somewhere. The city needs a city manager with city manager experience and knowledge. The candidate has to have the requisite knowledge and flexibility to hit the ground running.

Lastly, the new city manager must learn to love Glendale. Dr. Vanacour did and still does to this day. Mr. Bowers, retired city manager of Scottsdale, has always exhibited a love for and genuine concern for Glendale. That is obvious in his commitment to serve as its Interim City Manager. Glendale owes Dick Bowers a great deal.

I would strongly suggest that the citizens of Glendale are offered the public opportunity to “meet and greet” all of them before the final selection. This is so important for Glendale and gaining public support at the outset will help smooth the transition to a new city manager. A “meet and greet” not just for stakeholders such as Chamber of Commerce folk or college presidents but for ordinary citizens who take an active interest in and participate in their local government.

In summary, it is my hope that city council will weigh and measure these qualities of the city manager candidates very carefully:

  • Responsiveness to all
  • Respect for all
  • Practices open government
  • Respects and values all employees
  • Conservative fiscal philosophy
  • Previous city manager experience
  • Intelligence and adaptability
  • Willingness to embrace the entire community

© Joyce Clark, 2015


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Horatio Skeete

Yesterday I related sources who indicated that Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete would be resigning. Today I received more accurate information and that is that while Mr. Skeete will no longer be Interim City Manager he will stay with the organization and resume his role as Assistant City Manager.

Who will be the new Interim City Manager? Only the shadow…er, the city council knows…and maybe they haven’t made up their minds yet. So I will throw my speculation into the confusion that exists right now. I question 3would not choose anyone from inside the current organization.  I would hope that this council will not do so either. For them, it’s a case of paranoia. I don’t think they trust anyone inside the organization to provide them with their perceived and long-awaited version of the truth on any subject. It has been rumored for quite some time that this council would do major house cleaning of upper management. There has even been talk of offering a vastly different compensation package to anyone willing to step into this mess and take on the role of permanent City Manager. Expect internal warfare over the final selection of a new City Manager. Let’s hope that once that person is chosen, they can forget their differences and solidify around the selection.

I would choose someone from outside because it would help to foster an atmosphere of impartiality and remove the necessity of taking sides within the organization.

confusion 2Looking outside I don’t see a lot of choices with City Manager experience. I would consider Dr. Martin Vanacour or Richard Bowers.  Dr. Vanacour was Assistant City Manager of Glendale from 1970 to 1985 and then its City Manager from 1985 to 2002. He is experienced, knowledgeable, and certainly well versed in Glendale issues. Since his departure from the city he has been consulting and teaching. Another very viable candidate is Mr. Bowers. He was Assistant City Manager in Scottsdale from 1981 to 1991 and then its City Manager from 1991 to 2000. He has performed various consulting jobs for the past and present council. He, too, has been consulting and teaching.

The City of Glendale would be well served to have either one of these gentlemen as its Interim City Manager for several months until a permanent person is chosen for the position  Either one would bring stability and a sense of impartiality to an otherwise chaotic city management group.