John Russo: Alameda City Manager’s First Year

In local government, pleasing everyone is an impossible goal. However, the long list of first-year accomplishments credited to Alameda’s city manager won over most people, even if some remain partially reserved in their praise.

He helped earn concessions from labor, secured a contract with the Navy to take control of the local pier without paying more than $100 million, and brought in managers to take over departments that had been lacking leadership. But, the city council member who voted against his appointment points to a lack of progress on the budget as a point of reserved praise.

Others would point at challenges that have arisen in the city in the last year as missteps. But for John Russo, sees positives in each situation. The city hired an independent consultant to delve into how the city responds to emergency situations after a man drowned. After the city removed trees without what some considered sufficient notification or discussion, the city reached out to upset stakeholders and included them in the new streetscaping plan.

From The Alamedan.org:

John Russo seems strangely uncomfortable detailing what he’s accomplished during his inaugural year as Alameda’s city manager. Russo – a man who has passionately argued his case at any number of City Council meetings, where he has showcased his erudition with a steady peppering of 50-cent words and even warbled the occasional Beach Boys tune – doesn’t want to come off like he’s trying to brag.

But some of the City Council members who hired Russo feel he has a lot to brag about for this first year, which wrapped on June 13. He closed a long-sought deal with the Navy that will allow the city to take control of much of Alameda Point by the end of 2012 without paying the $108.5 million the Navy had previously demanded, hired a slew of top managers to run leaderless departments, put in place a series of policies intended to make City Hall more accessible to residents and won concessions from labor unions that will see hundreds of city workers paying more toward their pensions and benefits.

Read the full article here.

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