Dear Indio Neighbors,
I’ve got nothing to say about 2020. In fact, I’d like to shroud the rear-view mirror. Last year in my January column, I made optimistic predictions for the year ahead. Let’s not look back to see how I did. Among other things, however, I predicted that our local schools would once again exceed our expectations in how they prepare our kids. Well...every member of the education community deserves heroic recognition for how they adapted to their unforeseen circumstances. And little did we know that parents were about to join the ranks of teachers!
If nothing else, we lived among many heroes in the year just past (Y2K+20). I toast the heroes...who continue their mission as we enter 2021.
As for me, I didn’t even predict my own retirement. I was not planning to retire at this time last year. I probably explained in this column previously that there are State pension system policies that made retirement a smart move for a 71-year old City Manager, with a heart history in the middle of a global pandemic. So I did it, but have stayed aboard as Interim City Manager while the City Council recruits my successor. I am sad to be leaving — probably in the March-April timeframe.
The application filing period for City Manager candidates closes on January 11. The City hired one of the best professional recruiters in the business to help them find the best candidate. An outgoing City Manager tends to stay arm’s length to the new recruitment, but I offer the following sentiments to the field of candidates:
Dear Future Indio City Manager:
I admit to a bit of melancholy over leaving this job that I have loved. But I am comforted by knowledge that the City Council will have chosen you from among an outstanding field of candidates, so that makes you the best of the best. I congratulate you for this achievement, among other noteworthy career accomplishments I am sure helped you earn this appointment.
Please allow me to validate your enthusiasm about this job. Indio is a great community. Truly. People here are genuine. They care about each other and they are proud of the progress they see happening in their town. We celebrate housing growth and the opening of new stores. And we celebrate just as eagerly when our young people graduate or earn academic honors. Indio welcomes new businesses that bring good jobs and music festivals that bring vibrancy to our local economy. Our local businesses are important to us. They have struggled during the pandemic, so our citizenry does its best to support them. Of late, we have been applauding upgrades to our older neighborhoods and the reinvestment in infrastructure. People here are proud of this wide-ranging progress and of one another.
You are going to love the City staff here! This is the single most loyal, hard-working, self-motivated staff I have ever had the good fortune to work with. They not only care about the public, they literally reflect it. And they speak up to represent it. For a city of nearly 100,000, the staff is small in all of our departments, but they step up to the task, as they have throughout the COVID crisis.
And as City Councils go — you hit the jackpot. Stable, smart, dedicated and diverse in viewpoint. They do not always agree, but they know how to disagree. And the meetings here are constructive in tone. We have no gadflies here! We have occasional public critics, but they are sincere and offer legitimate viewpoints. It is that kind of town. (And don’t say this out loud but...our meetings are relatively short as City meetings go. Maybe we should hold that in confidence!)
What I love most about Indio is that there is such opportunity here to make a meaningful difference — serving as a teammate to a staff, a City Council, and a community of such deserving people. I feel like I live in a resort 12 months a year, but surrounded by friends. It’s a pretty special place.
I welcome you to Indio. I offer you my support whenever you want it and a deep assurance, as is the ethic in our profession, that I will not be “under foot!”
To all candidates, I hope you thoroughly enjoy your participation in this process. We feel grateful to have your interest, and we appreciate this chance to tell you about our community.
Interim City Manager
(and amateur columnist)