The number stood out immediately: 2,131.

That’s the number of stories that have been published on PublicCEO since I launched the site as its founding editor in April 2009. It’s also the number of consecutive games played by Yankees legend Lou Gehrig – a record that stood until Cal Ripken Jr. came along.

The significance of the number caught my eye right away. A framed poster of Gehrig giving his farewell speech to Yankee Stadium hangs on my PublicCEO office wall.

Now it’s my turn to say goodbye. This will be my last column as editor of PublicCEO.

I’m certainly no Gehrig – although I never did miss a day of publication and PublicCEO has way more hits. In reality, I wasn’t even the batboy. I’m the guy in the press box, reporting everything in play.

California’s local governments were the teams I covered. The city managers, mayors, county supervisors and public works directors – those were the players.

They were impressive and they were shameful. They were leaders at the local level, sometimes making big plays and other times making egregious errors. I watched it all and reported back to you.

I never have been directly involved in local government. I’m not an expert and I hope I never pretended to be one. But I always made sure to provide a platform for those who are experts. My time as editor was made possible thanks to those who spent countless hours explaining to me the intricacies of local government.

Extraordinary appreciation goes out to:

  • Jack Simpson, the Godfather of city management;
  • Eva Spiegel and David Liebler, my interpreters for the state and local relationship;
  • all of those who sent upbeat and constructive emails, and even those who sent the opposite types of emails;
  • Rusty Reed of Charles Abbott Associates, Inc., who took the leap with us as our first sponsor;
  • Robert Rizzo, for the traffic to make sponsors like Reed happy;
  • the city employees in Berkeley, who routinely open the morning email first;
  • Kassy Perry, who actually saw the humor in my attempts at humor;
  • and especially Louis Dettorre, my right-hand man throughout it all and one of the best I have ever worked with.

Those acknowledgments barely scratch the surface. My stay in the government world has been made possible thanks to the many who held my hand as I waded through it all.

PublicCEO launched with no more than a few hundred subscribers. Now, the site has grown to a reach of 21,000 loyal readers.

The job isn’t done. PublicCEO will be left in strong hands. The forum will now exist under the direction of new editor, Dan Oney. He’s sharp and ready, and he’ll introduce himself on Thursday. Please welcome him with all the support and consideration that you gave me.

Maybe local government was a bit too real. I’m headed back into the fantasy realm of sports. Writing about clear-cut wins and losses does sound nice, trivial as it may be.

And don’t worry; I’ll stay in touch. I’ll read PublicCEO to stay on top of it all. I’ll be rooting for government to make a comeback. I ask you all to be in touch as well. This site grew and transformed thanks to your readership.

For that, I will always be grateful.

– James Spencer

James Spencer can be reached at his new email address,