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Palo Alto seeks civic-minded, honest manager

Original post made on Mar 25, 2008

Palo Alto's next city manager should welcome community participation and strive to keep everyone informed of city happenings, the City Council agreed Monday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 7:55 AM

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2008 at 10:10 am

This marvelous 4-page brochure, touting the wonders of our city can be found at Web Link

As one of my fellow residents remarked, “Where is that city they describe? I think I'll move there.”

The brochure also lists critical job requirements—such as civic engagement and environmental stewardship: “The ideal candidate will have a passion for Palo Alto’s values, its residents, business, environment, and education … should be politically astute, yet apolitical and be available to the active community members in Palo Alto … appreciates and values the city’s residents and the contributions they can make to the effective governance of the community.”

Not one word about budgets, financial planning or negotiating skills. I guess those aren’t part of Palo Alto’s values.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 25, 2008 at 11:18 am

This is more a PR statement, meant as a selling document for potential candidates. I don't see the problem.

As for "improved civic engagement", I always thought Frank Benest was "engaged" enough.

The problem with that phrase is that it's taken by the old guard to mean something like "you have to be available when I want"; "listen to everything I say"; "keep anything from happening as long as I object"; and so on.

Hopefully, we'll bring in a City Manager who was a strong and competent as Frank Benest - someone who could "say it like it is" and force Council to makig policy, instead of putting the City Manager into a proxy position of policy maker.

The latter has often been used as a tactic by policy makers here. It hasn't happened too much in the last two Councils, but prior to that it was a big problem.

For sure, the Council needs a "policy partner" in a good City Manager, but the buck shuold stop at Council when things go wrong at the strategic level. If it's an operational question, then the City Manager's desk is where the buck stops.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Why not someone who, for a change, will mind the store? Someone like that uppity broad who really runs the show?

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2008 at 2:58 pm

C'mon, Walter. It's not necessary to use a somewhat pejorative description of someone. Did she once tell you to stuff it when she didn't like your "uppity" attitude?

I agree we need someone with gravitas to be a City Manager and Emily really could do the job. However, she has declined in the past to apply, and I don't think she's changed her mind. I'll bet some of that has to do with the "old guard" that Mike mentioned.

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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2008 at 9:10 pm

The designation was in reference to the punishmment meted out when she actually did the job rather than polish the image. Imagine. I am a secret admirer of Ms. Harrison.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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