Is city manager preparing for his inevitable resignation?

Historic City News has observed one of the most dysfunctional city boards, overpaid middle-managers, and poor community consultants administered by arguably one of the least qualified, slap-on-the-back, city managers in recent history. But according to an announcement brought with little public fanfare before Monday night’s regular meeting of the St Augustine City Commission, John P Regan, a public engineer, is using his fair share of convoluted double-speak, to propose major swaths of reduction to his responsibilities going forward.

It has been suggested that Vice-Mayor Todd Neville wants to spread his wings a bit further; ironic from the commissioner who spent his first two years in office telling the people’s mayor, Nancy Shaver, just how inappropriate it was for her to be involved in the day-to-day executive roles of her elected office.

In an organizational memo obtained by Historic City News on Friday, in preparation for tonight’s full commission meeting, it was observed that It was very hard to follow in terms of what the responsibilities are and what the reporting structure is.

For clarity, management should include, at a minimum, an organizational chart along with job responsibilities– and it all needs to be published in advance on the city website.

Vice Mayor Neville has been prattling on for two years about what he refers to as “succession planning”; however, it’s vital to define, in uniformly understood terms, what he’s talking about since “succession planning”, in a formal way, is done only by very large organizations– if it is done at all.

Does the meaning of “succession planning” for us mean “employee development”, “training”, “skill development”, “cross training” such as program management certification, or “robust recruiting strength”?

I would define the term more carefully, since succession planning is often understood to be lining up the next CEO — and that approach is now most often viewed as only useful for smaller non-profits and small closely held businesses.

From the 30,000-ft level, it looks a lot like what the city manager is doing is freeing himself from a lot of responsibility (without a reduction in pay) and passing off a lot of responsibility to the junior city manager, Tim Burchfield, (without an increase in pay). That won’t work, nor is it the privilege of the city manager to establish his own replacement — only the city commission has that authority under the charter.

If Regan is ready to call it quits, or Neville has his eye on that job when his term in office expires next year, get it out in the open so the people who actually decide how to proceed can do so instead of wasting time talking in hypotheticals.

Since the Bill Harriss regime (from whose seed Regan, Burchfield, Ste Claire, Piggott and others emerged) it seems that some people in local government have forgotten who they work for. We need a national search for our new city manager — not one owing a lot of local political debt and one who clearly is responsive to local residents, the other members of the Board of Commissioners, and generally carries out the direction of the mayor and commissioners, guided by best practices, not their own ego and self-enriching agenda.

This item will be discussed tonight.

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