Yes we can! We can find a good city manager
Buck up, city councilors! We believe you can find a good city manager.
It may seem like an impossible task to the five councilors, who dutifully listened to members of the public rattle off a long list of attributes they want in their next city manager.
We do not believe that the community wants a perfect city manager. In fact, humility would be nice, so let's find an imperfect person for this job.
The next city manager does not have to come from a family that has been here for the past eight generations. A good city manger may be from Maine or from away; may be in his/her 30s or 60s; may be a Republican or a Democrat. A good city manager may be a person with a big, strong personality, or may be more reserved.
The right person will have experience managing a large number of employees and will have a sharp pencil for finding cost savings. The right person will be a person of honesty and integrity who lets his/her yes be yes and no be no. The right person will have respect for both self and others, and will consider how his/her actions and words affect other people. The right person will have no interest in manipulating local politics.
The council will only have the option of choosing the best person from the applications it receives, so we urge councilors to read every application themselves and review the candidates carefully.
The council is to be commended for holding a public meeting the other night to give residents a chance to sound off about what they want in their next city manager.
The meeting was poorly attended, but a number of good suggestions and comments were made that could provide insight to the council as it moves forward with a tough hiring process. Some of the good suggestions included finding a city manager who:
- Has experience de-escalating conflicts;
- Values the working waterfront/harbor;
- Writes weekly city manager reports;
- Revels in the democratic process.
Unfortunately, the council also continues to complain about the troublesome press and members of the public who criticize. It was even stated that the new city manager will need the skin of a rhinoceros.
The council must come to terms with freedom of the press, which is guaranteed us by the First amendment. The press is going to continue to cover public meetings and comment on the decisions of public officials. Community members will continue to enjoy the right to freedom of speech.
It is hard to convince someone who deeply dislikes the press that the press is not their problem, but we have seen that this is really a self-fulfilling prophecy. The person who is terribly worried about how they will look in the press spends a lot of time trying to "control the message" or keep things secret and ends up looking bad. The public official who does not worry about the press and focuses on the business at hand tends to look good.
Tom Hall served here for nine years, working with some of the very same members of the press, not to mention the public. He was not perfect. He was simply a professional who could work with people. RSU 13 Superintendent John McDonald came to the district after a period of turmoil and he has steadily built support for the district in the community. He is not perfect, and we may not always agree with every policy we see in the school district, but his ability to work with people and his professionalism have improved the atmosphere.
We can disagree on the opinion pages and at the podium at public meetings and that is OK, as long as the public is not shut out of a secret process and as long as the best interests of the community, rather than individual agendas, drive the policy.
For all of these reasons, we believe we can find a good, solid city manager whom we can look forward to arguing with right here in this space in the future.
Kudos for coastal cleanup
A big thank-you is in order for the local citizens who volunteered their time for Coastal Cleanup Week.
The Rockland Harbor Trail Committee, along with the Coastal Children's Museum, Sail, Power and Steam Museum and local artist Greg Pinto gathered at Snow Marine Park Sept. 17 to celebrate Coastal Cleanup Week.
Those helping included Mayor Louise MacLellan-Ruf, Acting City Manager Audra Caler-Bell, residents Kris Johnson, Paul Brainard, Cindy Laurila and State Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center. Dunkin' Donuts also deserves credit for giving the group some treats before they started their work.
This is an example of community leaders acting as role models for the rest of us.
Not only does this help clean up our environment, but it also draws attention to the problem of litter.
There are many problems in this society that are nearly impossible to solve, but litter is one we can prevent and eliminate through better education and a stronger commitment to being good citizens. Think about that the next time you are about to chuck a piece of trash or a cigarette butt out the window!