I have mixed feelings about the mayor's new position titled Special Projects Manager. The mayor said Citibank and First Premier have both used this type of position in their organizations. He said this position will facilitate major projects and get things accomplished in a prudent fashion. Contrary to what people think, this is not a chief of staff position. I worked for two mayors who utilized a chief of staff position and each position was unique to the desire of the mayor. This is not that.
I view a true chief of staff position to be a go-between or buffer between the mayor and his direct reporting team, in this case, his city directors. A chief of staff position does not negate the ability of a director to have direct access to the mayor. The position works closely with directors, coordinating the mirade of administrative and operational activities that may not need the immediate attention of the mayor, thereby, saving the mayor some valuable time to work on specific and immediate action items. The chief of staff position would also coordinate information with the City Council and the Council's chief staff person.
Look up chief of staff on wikopedia and it describes a chief of staff as a behind the scenes coordinator, a position that acts as a confidant, an advisor, and a sounding board for the chief executive officer. The position works behind the scenes to solve problems, mediate disputes, works to keep problems from bubbling over to the chief executive. A chief of staff is a primary position for the chief executive, in this case, the mayor. Former Mayor Gary Hanson used the chief of staff position in the strictest sense of the position definition. Former Mayor Dave Munson used the position more in line with a communications, public relations coordinating position.
This new position isn't a true chief of staff position. I am glad the mayor did not call it a chief of staff because the job duties outlined in the job description clearly indicate that. The position will manage special projects, whatever that means.
What projects do you think this person will work on?
- The Event Center project? I thought Directors Cotter, Cooper and Smith were working on this project.
- Code Enforcement? I thought Assistant Planning Director Kevin Smith was working on that project.
- Diversity issues? HR Director O'Toole, his HR Manager-Employment & Training and Human Relations Manager/ADA Coordinator are responsible for diversity and civil rights enforcement issues/projects.
- Economic development projects? I thought that was CD Director Smith's job.
- Reducing airfares? Again, another project under CD Director Smith.
- Railroad Relocation Project? Again, Directors Cotter, Cooper and Smith.
- Downtown Redevelopment? Another one for Director Smith.
- The project of improving relations with certain city councilors perhaps?
In my opinion, a mayor needs staff to assist him/her because a mayor can not do everything alone. The job is too big. The Mayor needs personal staff support. I actually think a mayor needs a chief of staff position and a public relations/information officer position. What has been created is a special projects manager position at a good salary range with a confusing and possibly duplicating role in the organization. It will be interesting to watch what value this position will bring to the organization and what the job duties actually pan out to be.
Hence, the Yacker Tracker flashing yellow caution light.