I want to thank City Council for listening to residents and doing a nation-wide search for City Manager. We are a wonderful city for which many qualified current city managers would love to work. With this excellent firm, I am confident we will find a great city manager from the nationwide pool.
Something disturbing happened to me last Monday while I was at City Hall on business that I feel compelled to share. It was an intimidating and chastising encounter I had from our city manager while I was waiting. I spoke to City Manager Pietig when he came in to check on the entry monitor in the waiting room or Council Chambers. When he finished I thanked him for listening to residents’ concerns and selecting a search firm for the city manager job. Instead of a positive exchange between us, he resorted to scolding me and in his words accused me and others like me of making it hard to recruit candidates because of our negative comments and that we needed to stop. I was shocked by the aggressive tone and rude behavior from our top city employee. I found this encounter quite disturbing and I can hope that others have not been subjected to this type of interaction with our city manager.
For the record, I have great respect for our city employees and the job that they do. In fact, I have been concerned about the rumors of internal discord for quite some time and have tried to get this council to conduct an employee survey to help identify and resolve any dissatisfaction that may exist. It’s important to me that we have a city hall that operates and functions in a healthy manner with supported employees. With valuable employees like Human Resources /Risk Management Manager Tiffany Bates leaving this week, adding to the steady stream of people exiting for other towns over the past few years, I think we have a culture problem at city hall. In fact Bates’ LinkedIn page states among her achievements that:
“During a period of significant staffing changes within this city government agency, I’ve implemented changes to establish stability and increase morale among 270 FTEs and 300 seasonal/part-time personnel across nine departments.”
Establish stability and increase morale? For the city manager to blame residents who are trying to do something about this is a deflection of where the real problem is, and insulting to those of us trying to get a better run city with happy employees.
City Council – please insist on an employee survey now to find out what’s going on internally. If you won’t do that, at the very least do an exit interview to find out why these valuable and competent employees are leaving. And why now.
Michèle Monda, Laguna Beach