Monday, September 02, 2013

THE GOOD NEWS: HACKEMACK IS NO HACK!

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.

5 Comments:

At 3:39 PM, September 02, 2013, Anonymous Dwight Seeley said...

He(the Mayor) also terminated a hard working City Engineer in addition to the Comtroller!

 
At 8:17 PM, September 02, 2013, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Well, yeah, but that employee committed a grievous offense. He had the temerity to actually be related by marriage to Dick Durbin's Chief of Staff. We can't have such willful and wanton behavior in our Department Heads.

TYFCB

 
At 9:32 PM, September 11, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

#1. If you are a friend of this lady she needs no enemies. You are obviously pot stirring to make her job difficult.

#2. The comptroller was fired because she decided to become political with her very public support of Spring and insults to the current mayor.

#3. The City Engineer was not certified for the job he held. Causing the city to have to pay outside firms to certify work that was being done for the city. But that has not been uncommon in Quincy for many years. Friends and relatives of the past mayors have been suckling at the city's teat for many years.

 
At 5:44 PM, March 24, 2014, Blogger bill said...

So the assumption is he was fired for being related by marriage to Durbin's chief of staff, but not at all possible that same fact had anything to do with his hiring?

I have no idea of his competence or allegiance, don't know the man's name ... but certainly influence like that has a history of swaying such personnel decisions, and that influence usually comes with expectations of some kind of payback.

My experience with such "staff" is they will mislead, delay, lie .. for their own profit, and to protect their own, and will sell out the most honest and upright.

Young Kyle is hopefully still idyllic, and I wish him well as he takes on the battle against entrenched forces. But I don't know him either.

Are you going to start posting again, since it's time for baseball?

 
At 5:46 PM, March 24, 2014, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the assumption is he was fired for being related by marriage to Durbin's chief of staff, but not at all possible that same fact had anything to do with his hiring?

I have no idea of his competence or allegiance, don't know the man's name ... but certainly influence like that has a history of swaying such personnel decisions, and that influence usually comes with expectations of some kind of payback.

My experience with such "staff" is they will mislead, delay, lie .. for their own profit, and to protect their own, and will sell out the most honest and upright, with a grin.

Young Kyle is hopefully still idyllic, and I wish him well as he takes on the battle against entrenched forces. But I don't know him either.

Are you going to start posting again, since it's time for baseball?

 

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