JACK MAYNE: Interim City Managers are proving they can actually get things done
Commentary by Senior Writer Jack Mayne
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The terms interim or acting city manager have come to mean people who get something done where little was done before.
First example was Bob Jean; an interim city manager of Normandy Park who found a highly damaging financial flaw and fixed it even though the previously fired city manager had messed it up.
Then, Des Moines City Manager Tony Piasecki retired and Assistant City Manager Mike Matthias became interim City Manager and kept the city on track for a major new development that will be an eventual commercial success.
At the start of this year an election wiped out the former majority of the SeaTac City Council. The new council fired the city manager and hired a politician’s buddy who was an unmitigated disaster. But then SeaTac turned to the well-experienced city economic development manager, Joe Scorcio. He won the solid support of the Council as interim manager. He acted quickly and successfully to lay siege to the arrogant Port of Seattle by pushing back on tree removal. Many hope he will stay until he retires in 2018 and the Council may even make him permanent until that retirement
The final example was brought on by the unexpected, and some say political firing of two-year Burien City Manager Kamuron Gurol.
The Council hired retired Des Moines city manager Tony Piasecki to be interim Burien manager. Piasecki has proved one important thing about being an “interim” city manager – he understands that he is only going to be around a relatively brief time so he might as well do what is right and the facts require, not doing what is politically expedient.
Piasecki told Council he had added councilmember’s responses to citizen’s letter in the usual pre-meeting packet of material. Then he asked the council if he should continue the inclusion – but instead of a quick answer, the Council held a long and confusing – sometimes meandering discussion that produced no clear decision.
So Interim City Manager Piasecki said, in effect, if you can’t decide what you want, I will make the decision and “this is what I will do.”
It is sweet to have an “Interim” leader who will do what a regular manager might not dare to do – make a hard decision.
Sometimes it is good business to have interim managers.