A rudderless ship: recruiting the next City Manager

Dayton City Manager Rashad Young has a new job.

via Rashad Young hired by Greensboro.

It’s official. Rashad Young is off to Greensboro NC to be a city manager of a city that is smaller than Dayton, because they draw bigger circles on a map. I’ve often laughed at our definition of Downtown for the very same reason. According to planners- Miami Valley Hospital, Grandview, the Dayton Art Institute, The Oregon District, 5/3rd Field- all weren’t part of Downtown.We could be bigger, if we only dreamt bigger.

Somewhere in Dayton’s history we stopped looking at big pictures and instead concentrated on the little ones.

Big picture- we have water, we have a lot of smart people, it’s a good place to raise a family, the cost of living is low, traffic jams are almost non-existent, we have an amazing Metroparks system with a world class bikeway. Within that- we have way too many city managers, mayors, police chiefs and the like. We have government almost like we have drug stores and chiropractors – one for every corner of town.

With a $20 million deficit and a Mayor who likes to think she runs this town, masochists are the only people we can hope to have apply for the job. Luckily, there are a lot of people out of work looking for jobs, and- with the residency rule gone we might even let someone live in a ‘burb for a year or two if they can solve our problems.

The real question is will we ever let a City Manager actually manage the city? We’ve had too much interference from Mayors, too much micro-management from the commission and very little constructive debate on how do we change our habits to get different results? Until the voters speak on November 3rd, it’s unlikely that anyone would even consider taking the job, even if it was offered.

Would this be a good time to borrow someone from the County? As a first step of bringing a city/county merger? Joe Tuss has been Deb Feldman’s golden boy ever since she hired him away from City Hall. Is it time for Joe to take over, at least until we have time to sort things out? Are there any savvy business executives who may consider coming in for a year? We’ve never had a hard time asking them to look things over and make recommendations. Without a residency rule- all kinds of possibilities open up.

Is there some talent in City Hall that’s ready to take the nod? Of the two remaining assistant city managers, Stan Early was a candidate the last time, but was passed over for the very young Rashad Young. Shelly Dickstein has been tasked with wild goose chases like the Wayne Avenue Kroger deal that went South just like Rashad.  It’s almost impossible to judge the talent in the wings, because we barely let the City Manager step up to lead. John Gower in planning has the brains and the institutional knowledge, however if there is a more reluctant manager than John, I’ve yet to meet him.

So much could change in the next two months, but inevitably, it will be the voters who have the final say. Change captains or stay the course. Needless to say, one has to wonder why Rashad Young would leave his home town, with a new born, leaving both his wife’s family and his parents here, for the unknown of Greensboro NC if he hadn’t lost faith in his current bosses, the Mayor and Commission.

If there is any indication that a change in leadership is needed, it’s when your current CEO jumps ship. I wish him well.

For our sake, I hope there are some people up to the challenge of taking over.

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