During the city’s logo and branding debacle, Mayor Michael O’Connor said city staff was highly qualified and motivated to refine and create the now-famous and abandoned “f.” Michael credited his team with the ability to do more than one thing at a time. He praised their ability to go beyond their comfort zone and stretch their skills do perform very specific marketing and branding work.
We all know what happened to the “f,” but the focus should remain on Michael’s ability to set priorities and lead projects to a successful conclusion.
A recent case — the city’s draft adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) — made headlines after a public spat between Alderman Ben MacShane and Michael. Ben’s argument was a process and progress critique. He argued that after more than 10 months of meetings and workshops on the APFO, the aldermen and citizens still have no draft ordinance to discuss and Michael’s laissez-faire management is to blame.
Michael’s hot response was a poor reflection of his management style. He chastised Ben for running for office without knowing the demands of the job. Perhaps Michael was right in one way — elected officials sometimes sit through some mind-numbing hearings before reaching legislative success.
Clearly, Ben was primed for a political battle that day. He blamed his frustration on Michael’s lack of direction over city staff and wanted to hire a consultant to get the APFO finished.
Their public argument missed the more important issue — city staff had not had enough direction from the aldermen or the mayor and could not answer important questions about the APFO. Further, many of those involved in the APFO had been involved in countless (and undocumented by any agendas or meeting minutes) hours meeting on the “f” logo design and NOT on the APFO.
I agree that city staff is capable of doing more than one thing at a time. City residents, however, expect them to perform their primary jobs FIRST before being pulled away to work on a project that does nothing for our health, safety and welfare.
Jennifer Dougherty is the former mayor of Frederick.