Measuring For Integrity in a Future City Manager 

Bill West has written another informative Telegram article about the City Council’s special work session last week where they discussed the search for a future city manager. Here is a link to access the article that I am responding to. Click on:

There is no city more adept at spending big bucks on outside consultants than the City of Rocky Mount. The taxpayers pay for this, the usual suspects make some money under the table, and the plans are put in a drawer, so they can do what they wanted in the first place. Again, the Council has agreed to bring in representatives from three nationwide search firms, select one, and find the next city manager.

We all know that hiring from within is the preferred practice. Someone is ready on day one, and it saves money. We are hoisted on our own petard, however, because the powers- at- be have run off responsible employees that came equipped to do their jobs, but were not allowed to do them. To want integrity in the next city manager, is laudable, but in reality is impossible to measure.

Mr. Blackwell says, “We need some evidence of competency and perspective — and a person who’s not afraid to be courageous from our perspective, because oftentimes when you are having to make hard decisions and do things that go against status quo, it creates a pushback from people who don’t want to be moved out of their perspective or privilege.”(Take a breath)

In other words, when you question or criticize me and others at the Council meetings it is because you are an inmoveable racist. What other reason could there be to question or criticize me? In Mr. Blackwell’s case (22 years)he has had enough time to accomplish what is still unfinished. Competency is the new big word to rattle on about. That’s what is needed for sure. I am amused that this expectation for the city manager puts the usual suspects in danger should the taxpayers measure their competency.

I appreciated that Mr. West quotes Councilman Joyner, who is running for reelection in Ward 3. It confirms his view of things.

“Whenever you talk about building a team, whenever you talk about shared wealth, whenever you look at those processes, you ask yourself: Where is diversity? Where is equity? And where is inclusion?” Mr. Joyner said, “When you look at the process of equity, diversity and inclusion, it points to race.” 

It certainly does. That’s the problem. Mr. Joyner believes that a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion are to blame for the problems in Ward #3. It couldn’t possibly be the city councilman’s leadership. Things will remain the same if that’s how you view things.

I know now that when these three words are repeated it is an attempt to shift blame away from poor leadership, and hidden agendas. Blaming the lack of D, E, I for the plight of black communities is a convenient off ramp rather than admit to a lack of vision and leadership. You won’t find the stake holders downtown looking for excuses. The Moe Deloach generation are repairing the breach, living for today and making a future for themselves, their families, and the entire community.

Peter Varney gathered information in advance of the special called work session on Feb. 28th. The information included a list of what the Mayor and Councilman believe to be the core competencies the future city manager should have.  The top four were integrity; diversity, equity and inclusion, again hard to measure. Included are resource management and staff effectiveness; and functional and operational expertise in planning and performance measurement and management and quality assurance/ performance measurement.

The time spent deciding what to look for in the next City Manager should have concluded with the fact that a person’s experience is what is measurable. Why do you think Peter Varney can’t retire? Everyone knows his experience brings results, he fixes things, plays well with others, and follows a moral compass. Perhaps time would have been better spent discussing how to clone Peter Varney. He has all the core competencies we need. Here is my advice. (You can pay me the consultants fee and we’ll spend it on housing.)            

Pick a good person that comes with solutions.

We thank Mr. Varney for presenting the big question on our behalf. “How do we restore trust and credibility and confidence in the city governmental operation?”

One answer: VOTE on May 17th and change the culture of the Council. Tom Harris #6 is running unopposed. Pete Armstrong #7, Crystal Wimes Anderson #3, Sam Battle and a lady I haven’t met named, Joylette Whitaker #2. It is time for a change. Let the new seated Council take up the search for a City Manager or figure out the cloning idea.

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