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Personally, I’m getting tired of looking for the day our County Supervisors start acting like the leaders of a large, complex organization rather than reactive, soundbite-driven politicos who engage their oral communications orifice in pursuit of media sound bites regardless of the organizational and public relations consequences of their poorly thought out statements. The publicized reaction of two of the Supervisors to the news earlier this month about the county having lost a lawsuit brought by the state that could cost the county $ 147 million or more, while the other three Supervisors apparently remained silent, shows that such leadership is still lacking.
Leadership is about many things. When in charge of a large organization, an effective leader must be knowledgeable, analytical, reassuring and a source of respect by the employees as well as presenting a vision for the future. Those characteristics certainly were not on display when the news of the lawsuit loss broke on May 8.
Rather than display a calm, analytical approach to figure out just what this news meant and how its consequences might be managed, Supervisor Todd Spitzer, in the ready-fire-aim style he became known for when on the Board previously, was quoted in the press as stating that he anticipated an immediate across the board cut in every department. Not to be outdone, Supervisor John Moorlach said the ruling could devastate county finances and lead to layoffs. Boy, talk about how to send a wave of panic throughout an organization, these two Supervisors can give lessons on what not to do.
So, was this sky is falling example of leadership from the two Supervisors warranted? Apparently not, for The Register reported on May 25 that the County’s Budget Director has just presented a draft budget to the Supervisors for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that, according to the Register article “patches together funding to minimize possible layoffs and help fill a $76 million deficit”. The article goes on to say the budget proposes a mix of cuts and “revenue patches” to produce a budget that results in “Fewer than five supervisory and management employees could lose their jobs.”
Sounds manageable to me. Thank goodness the county staff is able to prove the old axiom that cooler heads will prevail.