Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Yesterday, I wrote about how great it is for the City that it has the services of this talented woman.  Today, I go over the reasons why retaining someone of her estimable talents will be problematic.

The Obvious-- Clearly, Glenda is a talented and dynamic administrator. As such, she is in demand. If she receives an attractive job offer into a stable situation, she must consider it. This is especially so since there is always the risk that the guy who hired her is a one termer;
The Mix, Part One-- as discussed yesterday, Glenda’s management style can be summed up as “responsible delegation.” As an alderman, Kyle’s management style can best be described as meddlesome.  If one assumes that Glenda adopted her management style because it is the way she wanted to be treated, there could be a problem in the offing. If Kyle’s management style remains meddlesome and Glenda feels she can best thrive in a delegative environment, the relationship could experience stresses;
The Mix, Part Two This one is simpler.  Glenda is bright, facile, and a proven problem solver. Kyle is,… Well… Kyle. Let’s just say it is not an egalitarian relationship. There is a certain level of stress and dissatisfaction built into working for someone less intelligent. There comes a day when the trade-offs no longer compensate for that dissatisfaction. Whether that day arrives for Glenda in the first four years is anybody’s guess but it should not be overlooked as a possibility;
Oversupervising-- Glenda is accustomed to reporting to a Board of Directors once a month or so and handling the day-to-day operation of an organization herself. Kyle, as an alderman sought information on constant and detailed basis about the internal operations of various departments. It remains to be seen whether he will maintain that same thirst for day-to-day data as mayor. This could take one of three forms: he could learn to delegate to his DAS; or, he could simply require more or less real-time information about her decisions; or, worse, he could require his approval before she took any action. Either of the last two possibilities would be contrary to her experience and would, over time where on her;
15 yards and loss of down, excessive preening-- it is fair to describe Glenda’s career to date as “just doing the work without regard to who gets the credit.”  Political officeholders, generally, are, to paraphrase Adlai Stevenson Junior, generally “unburdened by humility.” This administration raises vanity to an art form. The role model for this leadership team is that noted Peacock, Aaron Schock. While that is probably amusing for Glenda in the short run, it has to wear on one to be exposed to it a full-time basis. Standing alone, this is probably not a dealbreaker for her but it’s a quality-of-life issue and would enter into any calculation related to a new job offer;
Role Definition-- if you ask the people who have been promised jobs by this administration whether it was good at defining roles, he would get a negative answer. You really need look no further than the senior third Ward alderman. Does anybody really believe that there was an honest intent to place him in the job he thought he would inherit? While I have no way of knowing, I assume that Glenda made every effort to tightly negotiate her role before accepting the job. The very breadth of the job makes it impossible to do that on the front end. If the Mayor’s expectations for her become either to limited or two broad and murky, that will call her job satisfaction into question;
The ever popular Scapegoating-- let’s just face it, working for a politician holding executive  elective office is different in kind from any other kind work. If some project downsides or something part of the city underperforms or the response to an emergent situation is deemed insufficient (“you’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie!”) The one to walk the plank is not the elected official but the appointive one. Actually, Quincy has an interesting history of mayors taking hits to protect their director of administrative service. It is difficult to close one’s eyes and imagine Kyle Moore doing that;
Labor Negotiations-- there comes a point in every labor negotiation that a decision about a compromise that will settle all of the outstanding disputed points is needed and can’t come from a mere department head. It seems like this time always arises at night and the DAS is required to make a decision, off hours and within a relatively urgent timeframe. Once this occurs, the Mayor has to decide whether to support his DAS or embarrass her. This decision point will arrive next year. It will happen, up or down. Glenda is marketable enough that she does not have to sit still for having her operational legs cut out from underneath her.
As a matter of history, after about 2 ½ or three years, our deputy mayors have not been particularly fired up about continued service. If they were not glad to leave, they were at least relieved not to have to keep all these balls in the air at once, without a lot of appreciation. With Glenda, I would bet it’s 60 – 40 that she leaves before the end of Kyle’s four-year term. In the end, it might be a compendium of all the things above or it might simply be the frustration of working for someone who is so obviously not your equal. However that plays out, one can only hope that Kyle can step out of character enough to show appreciation for the supremely skilled leader he is hired. That that is 80 – 20, against.

Monday, September 02, 2013


I am very late with this post.  Someone I admire greatly got deserved recognition.  First draft was in the can in early August but it seems this is my Summer for breaking body parts and meeting charming new specialists.

In July the estimable Glenda Hackemack became the director of administrative services (a.k.a. “Deputy Mayor”).  The Mayor is to be praised for this.  It takes a measure of courage to hire someone so obviously more qualified than he to run a 30 million dollar corporation.  This was nicely done.

On this appointment, Mayor Moore deserves a good deal of credit. As his misbegotten intended appointment of an alderman as deputy mayor and his beyond clumsy termination of a highly skilled Comptroller demonstrate, there was absolutely no reason for optimism over his employee evaluation or appointment skills.  No doubt there was also pressure to hire some rube for political reasons

On the other hand, one sympathetically hopes Glenda thought long and hard about accepting this job before she joined the fray. This is true not for some of the obvious reasons that others have brought up, but for important and predictable reasons that should be clear to anyone who is ever done career municipal work.  Some of those will be discussed in detail tomorrow.

Glenda has an interesting management style, one that only works for a confident, skilled person.  It is my belief she has developed it and refined it over time.   In all her previous locations, she has believed in placing strong, skilled people in technical, service – providing jobs. She then delegates, nearly absolutely, the conduct of those professional services to those skilled people. If those people take unwarranted heat or criticism from others, she protects them. If those people make errors of enthusiasm, she hears out the reasoning for whatever they did or decided and corrects them privately if their behavior was in error. 

Her developed job skill is staying out of the way of people who know what they are doing and tacking flack so they don't have to.  She praises in public and corrects and private. I am well acquainted with many of her former employees and I have never heard anyone say that she is anything but true to her word and generally supportive with of her employees.  Who wouldn't want to work for a leader like that.

Many have said that her “lack of experience in politics” will make it difficult for her to perform in this job. That is just plain silly for at least two reasons. First, she has worked in NGOs for as long as I have known her. As a general rule, NGOs are run by citizen boards. Citizens boards of directors are generally populated by people who consider themselves “prominent in the community.”  There is nothing more fraught with politics than juggling conflicting opinions of those “prominent” board members. Dealing with a vain, empty suit in “not-for-profitland” is no different from dealing with most of the vain, empty suits in politics.  Second, her lack of partisan political experience would only be a negative if advanced vote-counting or lobbying were important parts of her job or the administration’s mission. This administration has no interest in vote-counting because it seems to have no real interest in policy anyhow.   As nearly as anyone paying attention could possibly determine, Mayor Moore’s only policy position is, “I won the election so I am the Effing Mayor.” Thus, even assuming Glenda is not strong in this skill, it does not matter because it is not a skill to be deployed in this administration.

So there is much more good news than bad in this appointment. The people of the City of Quincy have a highly skilled administrator operating as our day-to-day chief. The employees of the City of Quincy have a director who will deal fairly and evenhandedly with them, to the extent they deserve it. It remains to be seen whether Glenda’s management style will work with: A) union members; B) employees who, different from her previous employees at other locations, are not highly skilled, professional and motivated to serve the public well (and there are some of those afoot); and C) employees in whose hire she did not participate and feel as though they have some kind of “political protection.”  All told, I am guessing that her superior intellect and her chosen, well-conceived management style gives her a good chance to deal successfully, even with these. .

There is much good news in this appointment.  I am happy for Glenda, if she’s happy.  If it’s not clear already, I’m a huge fan.

But, every silver lining has a cloud.  I see some real beauties downstream.  Tomorrow, I will discuss why this very good news could ultimately render this appointment problematic.