Friday, September 24, 2010
I was a Director for the City of Sioux Falls for over 23 years. I worked for 5 Mayors, each with their own styles of management and agendas. As an appointed official I served at the pleasure of the Mayor. Those past Mayors afforded each director the time to demonstrate their skills and abilities to serve the new administration. Some directors just didn't "fit" and were told that and were given a timeline in which to find other employment before their appointive service was terminated. That was a good professional policy. Afterall, these were career professionals, not political junkies. Mayor Huether has started something at the Director level that has been feared for a long time with this form of government. That is, changing the appointive director positions from career professionals to political patronage appointments. This is apparent by his firing of Directors Hall, Bartunek, and Buseman and appointing either friends or political cronies. Two chose to exercise their bumping rights. The other one, when indicating the desire to retire, didn't even get the professional courtesy to leave gracefully and respectfully. This action happened right out of the chute so it appears he had it planned before being sworn in. Clearly, city ordinance provides for the authority to appoint and no director should have any doubt that they are there only by the grace of the Mayor. The appointive level director team is extremely important to the success of any Mayor. Mayors need to surround themselves with senior executives that will work to achieve their goals and objectives. How does a new mayor know who will work or not work unless he/she takes time to legitimately evaluate those career professionals. Directors have no political agendas. They are there to work for the betterment of the community and they know it is there duty to serve the elected officials. The constant threat that more changes were and are forth coming is a poor management trait. The Administration is the backbone of city government which provides stability against the backdrop of changing elected officials. Employees look for stability. Career professionals at the appointive level provide that stability, but more importantly, provide the wealth of knowledge and experience in which a newbie Mayor needs coming into a brand new and foreign environment. The appointive director level positions should not be used to pay back friends and political contributors or campaign workers. I fear change is in the wind.