Hatch-No Staff Increases On His Watch!
Shortly after I finished writing the previous post about cocaine being found in Huy Pham's system - a tough one for me to compose - I discovered Joe Serna's piece in the Daily Pilot about Costa Mesa City CEO Tom Hatch's speech before the meeting of Mesa Verde Community, Inc. Wednesday evening. I confess I missed that meeting. Now I'm very sorry I did.
HATCH - "NEVER EXPAND THE STAFF"
According to Serna's coverage, HERE, Hatch pledged to the assembled group - including Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger - that as long as he's the leader of city he will not expand the municipal workforce. Apparently it is his plan to fill any necessary staffing requirements using contractors.
Maybe it's because of the late hour or because I spent a lot of emotional energy on the previous entry - or a combination of both - but reading that comment just took the wind out of my sails.
NEVER SAY NEVER
Although I've been retired for a few years, I do know just a little about managing. One of the things I've learned from years managing groups large and small is that is usually a very bad idea to say you're NEVER going to do something in the future. We don't know what the future will bring, but what Hatch's comment has done is lock out an option that he may well find he needs down stream to effectively manage our city as it gets back on it's feet.
A BODY BLOW TO THE STAFF
Even more disappointing to me is the message it will send to the current city staff. It is a diminishing group, pummeled by events in our city for the past three months and Hatch's comment will likely be received like one more punch in the gut to those loyal workers who are trying hard to continue to do their jobs in these difficult times. This is a group that has seen their numbers reduced by 25% over the past couple years, and who have been asked - and have responded - to do more while receiving less salary. They have done more than requested to help the city balance the budget.
I DO UNDERSTAND...
I do understand the economics of our times. I do understand that we're having a difficult time balancing our budget - a fact exacerbated by the irrational demands of certain council members to cast aside employees so a pot hole can be filled. I do understand that Hatch - a man I like very much and who I feel is giving this job his very best under extraordinarily difficult circumstances - works for this city council and only has his job as long as they want him in that slot. I understand all that, but reading his comments tonight made me very disappointed in him.
Perhaps the most ironic comment I read in Serna's article is that, when asked what characteristic he was looking for most in a department head Hatch's response was "character". He was quoted as saying he values that "more so than expertise or skills". I think it's ironic because some of the people he works for come up very short on that scale.
WHAT ABOUT THE REMAINING EMPLOYEES?
So, before I go hit the sack tonight, I find myself wondering just how the remaining loyal city staffers will feel when they read Hatch's comments in the Daily Pilot tomorrow. I suspect that many who had not received layoff notices within the past couple months and who had planned to hang in there and continue to do their jobs will now start to consider other options. I suspect they may be looking for a new job - perhaps in a new city - where their contributions are acknowledged and appreciated. No one could blame them...
WHAT ABOUT FUTURE RESIDENTS?
And how will this position be perceived by potential future residents of our city? Will those "upwardly-mobile" young families that seem to be a highly sought-after commodity feel that such an inflexible position may result in diminished services provided by our city? Will they worry about there being enough police officers and firefighters to provide adequate public safety? Will they worry about our parks and streets being properly maintained? I think they might.
MORE BAD NEWS
Hatch's line in the sand is just one more dark cloud hanging over our city and it's just too darn bad for us all.