Thursday, October 28, 2021

Our Odyssey is Hopefully Over

More Straight Talk

It appears our long nightmare of a “ship without a rudder” is quickly drawing to a close. That sad chapter in the life of the City of Marco Island began as part of the election of 2016, when those that did not share an affection for then City Manager Roger Hernstadt put together a slate of candidates who were determined to take the ruling body politic in a different direction.

Whether you agreed with the outcome of that election or not, that is how democracy works. In 1947 Winston Churchill mused that, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise.”

Later in history he would be recognized as one of the greatest leaders of the Allied Nations. He would come to understand the unfair nature of politics all too well shortly after the end of World War II, despite his stellar wartime leadership.

George H.W. Bush would also feel the sting that is sometimes delivered at the voting box in his defeat at the hands of William Jefferson Clinton in November of 1992. However, voters would come to realize the quality of the man years later as the humanity and ethics of the individual would be exposed as history would peel back the shroud that sometime obscures the decency of the individual or the evil of those that spend time in office.

Elected officials, as well as professionals who serve in government, are better judged by history, rather than their contemporaries during their service.

City managers are no different. During my time as a city councilor I came to realize that and appreciate the fact that they too have a limited time of effectiveness as they carry out their responsibilities. Unlike others in the workforce we have to understand that reasoning for their departures from their last posting, are as much a part of the inconsistent nature of politics itself.

Back 44 years ago when I served in my first elected office it wasn’t unusual to see individuals stay somewhere between ten to twenty years. The gentleman who serves as our present interim manager had spent twenty-two years with the City of Delray Beach before retiring.

Those days have changed since my first elected position. A reflection on those changes may be directly related to citizens growing suspicious of government, rather than being comfortable with it. Government, and some that serve within it, may have brought the sense of suspicion onto themselves.

Vietnam, Watergate, corruption and the belief in some polling that shows citizens believe elected officials put their own interest ahead of the nation have fed that distrust.

The fact that all of the last candidates to fill the open position of manager here on Marco Island had fallen victim to the changes in the political winds within their last places of employment worried me very little, because I understood the unfair nature of how individuals can be perceived, regardless of the progress they had made on behalf of their constituents.

What should be important lies in the accomplishments of the individuals during their lifetime in professional service. It was wonderful that some had spent many years of service to some of the communities they had worked in as part of a steady climb to the top positions within those places of employment.

We had five interesting candidates to fill the void the community has had for the last two and a half years. When it came down to the final vote the two left standing couldn’t have been any different, but in many ways so similar.

Both demonstrated longtime staying power within the structures they worked within early in their careers. Both had experience working within a wide variety of departments within city or county government, giving themselves a wide variety of experiences and exposures to differing levels of government services.

Probably, and most importantly, they have understood the varying demands for services in a resort/residential community.

If there was one difference in those two resumes, it came in the fact that one had Florida experience which may have tipped the scale in his favor, but either finalist would have made a great choice for the next Chief Executive Officer of our city.

Mike McNees deserves an opportunity to move forward as our next city manager and be allowed to do the job without any interference or second guessing. He has shown he is the consummate professional based upon his experience and his work record.

It is my hope that he and his wife enjoy a long and wonderful experience as he “comes home” to Marco Island.

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