Magazine article Public Management

Smooth Transitions Are Still Possible: Keeping Blood Pressures and Costs Lower

Magazine article Public Management

Smooth Transitions Are Still Possible: Keeping Blood Pressures and Costs Lower

Article excerpt

All too often our profession is plagued with quick departures, dramatic council severance discussions, and the perception that peaceful transitions are just impossible in today's political environment. Even back in April 1993, John Luthy, president of The Futures Corporation, wrote in PM, "Transitions will occur at a blinding pace, often becoming apparent without warning or time to prepare."

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My recent experience can hopefully show that smooth transitions are still possible. For the two impacted communities, this process can be meaningful, save taxpayer dollars, and help the next manager by leaving the office organized.

I resigned from Richfield, Wisconsin (population 12,000), as the village administrator to accept the city manager position in Bullhead City, Arizona (population 42,000), on November 4, 2009. I started working in Bullhead City on January 4, 2010. The interview process was wrapped up in late October, which means this was more like a 75-day transition period.

First, the Bullhead City Council was generous in allowing me to stay in Richfield even though they urgently desired my employment after offering me the job. Plus, they knew my Richfield contract only required a 30-day notice to cease employment. To help with the transition. Bullhead City paid for two round trips between Wisconsin and Arizona so that I could become familiar with the community affairs before starting. This was another example of working together for the betterment of both communities.

The elected officials in Richfield understood my desires for professional advancement but asked me to stay on board as long as possible. It felt great to know they trusted me to advance their goals even though I was leaving. They could have turned angry and shown me the door. In fact, we even joked around in closed session that they could fire me and provide six month's severance. …

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