Cassidy asks San Leandrans input on new City Manager – sort of…

New San Leandro City ManagerSan Leandro is about to appoint a new City Manager to lead the city, hopefully effectively and for many years to come.  An ad hoc committee composed by Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Council members Reed and Souza narrowed the field of applicants from 30 to five.  The Council won’t disclose their identities – ostensibly to protect the applicants’ current  jobs – though hopefully demographic information on them will be forthcoming.  Cassidy has not heeded my suggestion that he appoint a citizens ad hoc committee to give input on who among these candidates would work best for the city, but he is soliciting the community’s opinion albeit in a very limited manner.

For one, he set up an online questionnaire asking very general questions as to what San Leandrans want in a city manager. Cassidy has not explained how the information from these questionnaires will be put to use, however.

Cassidy will also be holding a Town Hall meeting (Sat., April 30, 9-11 a.m. Lecture Hall at Main Library) for citizen’s to provide their input on this issue.  For that input to be useful, however, it is essential that the citizens attending be asked real questions concerning the particular characteristics of the five final candidates.  For example, it would be of little use of citizens to tell the Mayor that they want a Latino or Asian city manager, if none of the five final candidates are of such ethnic origin.  Similarly, if none of the candidates live or are willing to live in San Leandro, it won’t help the Mayor at this point to hear how important this issue is to the community.   It is thus essential that Cassidy and his fellow Council members take a careful look at the characteristics of these five candidates and then ask the community specific questions about what qualities about them they would find more compelling.  Would we rather have someone with more experience or with a commitment to stay in San Leandro for longer?  Do we want someone who has worked in City government all his life, or would we prefer her to have business or non-profit experience?  Do we want someone who is known for their financial skills – given our dismal budget situation – or someone with superior management skills?  Only people with access to the candidates will know what the right questions to ask are.

The five candidates won’t be interviewed by the City Council until after the Town Hall meeting, so this is also a good opportunity for Cassidy to solicit community input about what sort of questions we want Cassidy to put to the candidates – and what types of answers would make us happiest.  I will personally not be able to be at this Town Hall – it conflicts with the California Democrats Convention – but I hope that many people will attend, that the discussion will be relevant and useful and that the City Council will take the input it generates seriously.

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3 Comments on “Cassidy asks San Leandrans input on new City Manager – sort of…”

  1. Craig Williams says:

    Low show at the meeting. The city manager is an arcne position to most. I venture to say most people don’t know we have one, yet its a very important position. Less than a dozen people showed up including Cassidy, Souza and a reporter,even though it was posted in several media outlets.

  2. Marga Lacabe says:

    I think you are right that most people don’t know or care what the City Manager does, but I also think Cassidy et al did not want to get any meaningful public input – and that’s why they chose a time when it would be very inconvenient for most people. Really, who is ready to attend a public meeting at 9 AM on a Saturday?! Other than you, Craig, of course 🙂

    Anyway, how did the meeting go? Did anything productive came from it? Did it sound like they wanted real input that would let them chose between the candidates they had chosen, or that they were just going through the motions?

  3. Craig Williams says:

    The effort by Cassidy seemed sincre.There was a notice in the SLTimes and at a few other outlets including your own. The process is complicated because some of the best candidates would be city managers who are currently working for other cities who would want to keep their application under rapps.
    Because our democracy is a spectator sport only a very small percentage of people show for such meetings. The fact that the city manager is not the most visible position in the city adds to the problem.
    The schedule time was OK. A night time meeting would have been not much better , if at all.
    We had a health care meeting at the library , handed out a few thousand flyers , many at the library itself and got about the same turnout.
    We are not so free a country without universal Just Cause and its hard to teach older dogs new democratic tricks like participating.
    There’s also a catch 22 about a Bernie Sanders type city manager. You would want someone as you say with “balls” but anyone with a lot of balls would probably never get hired by a city ,so they would not have experience.


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