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Monday, December 15, 2008

E Pluribus Non Unum – From Many, Not One

Earlier this year, the Janesville city manager announced his retirement, and so has the superintendent of the Janesville school district. The director of Rotary Gardens also vacated his post. All had their own reasons. Now comes word that the Janesville Police Chief, Neil Mahan, a transplant from Bakersfield, California, will also be leaving (retiring) his position after serving for just over 4 years.

Under most circumstances I wouldn’t see the commonality of it all, but under the current circumstances of the potential for major local economic decline, if I didn’t know better, I’d think they are all “cutting and running.” But that can’t be true because afterall, Janesville like everybody else, always appoints the best leadership they can find. And the best doesn’t “cut and run.” Or do they? Perhaps it’s just all a coincidence. But the point of this posting is not about reasons why Janesville’s appointed leadership are falling like dominoes in '08, it's about why we continue to promote a false sense of superiority and satisfaction through national search hiring practices.

I of course, have to ignore the fact that Janesville does not elect one of their own for mayor or have district representation to lead its people. That should be a big clue as to who is running the city. But what’s wrong with hiring or appointing the best person Janesville has to offer for leading the city into the future? Who are these people that constantly push for national searches? Are they embarrassed of Janesvillians? Are Janesville natives and current residents just too corrupt and stupid to crunch some numbers, create a vision and know what's best for their own community. From school superintendent to city manager to library director, Rotary Gardens or police chief, the people of Janesville are just not good enough to run their own city. Janesville is not alone in this charade. Edgerton, Milton and many other towns throughout the United States are also in search of appointing the “best” school superintendent or police chief they can find. Everybody is trading "apples for apples” in their quest for the “best,” but it’s not one their own.

In a posting from two years ago, I felt that by turning our backs on our own residents including Wisconsin graduates, most Wisconsin communities were guilty of fueling the state's "brain drain." Nothing has changed since. I’ve always thought this to be a disgrace first and a direct slap in the face second to the masses of people of any town.

Considering that nearly every leadership position in Janesville was filled by a non-resident prior to their appointment, the city should adopt “E Pluribus Non Unum,” as the official motto of Janesville. It fits like a glove.

This posting is not a criticism of the fine men and women from locations around the country who have been appointed now or in the past for upper level job and leadership positions in Janesville.

3 comments:

Rich said...

I agree with your argument that local people could be just as qualified as outsiders. The "professional associations" and search companies act as a union of sorts for public officials. They inflate the salaries required to fill positions to keep on shuffling the deck.

Harp said...

Your idea to withhold state aid from municipalities if they sidestep local applicants for top jobs was outstanding. Wisconsin taxpayers pay a fortune for higher education only to watch the grads take that education to another state.

Greenconsciousness said...

Plus you know more about the guys and gals who live closer. and they act less like royalty than the ones who come from out of state. I love this post.

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