City Manager's Blog

Aug 17

[ARCHIVED] Introducing Friday Features

The original item was published from August 17, 2018 10:11 AM to August 17, 2018 10:19 AM

Have you ever used the word stale to describe government?  Old ways of thinking, mundane daily operations, and out-of-date policies and procedures are ways government can bring this reputation upon itself.  Even in this day and age, cities can be slow to update their practices in order to address the service needs of the community.  

“The way we’ve always done it” in the City of Modesto will not, cannot be our mantra as we seek to provide for even the basic community requisites, like quality parks, safe neighborhoods, efficient water supplies, and solid infrastructure.  

If a city is transparent with its public, it will shine the spotlight on areas of government that need to be overhauled, and as you know, often the media will assist in turning up the heat on that light.  As I’ve shared in these blog posts, my goal is to have that open and honest conversation with the employees of city hall and the members of the community.  I desire to share areas of concern, areas of government that need attention, but also to share of the good work we are doing to step up our game and meet the community’s needs.  

And why “candy coat” the challenges we’re faced with?  You’ve heard finances are tough for any government agency, and you can make the comparison from limited financial resources to a slow response to many of the city’s challenges.  One major example of this, and one that I will tackle in a future blog post, is the City of Modesto’s tree maintenance program.  How can any government agency keep up a healthy watering schedule for its thousands of trees with a limited budget, a budget, I might add, the majority of Modesto residents would prioritize to public safety?

This city is made up of resilient, smart people who desire greatly to see it thrive.  Modesto is made up of residents and workers who are passionate about its well-being and success.  The city is growing because people want to live, work, and play here, and I'm anxious to start telling that story.  

It is discouraging when we hear and read negative comments about Modesto, but I understand the negativity is often bred from mistrust.  Ken Hampian, former City Manager of San Luis Obispo, reflected in a recent article, “Healthy relationships – in a marriage, among friends, in a family, an organization or a community – depend on one precious thing: trust.”  Hampian continues, “Without trust, big problems are not solved; divisive and petty ones multiply instead.  And pettiness is where all the energy goes.” 

I have a responsibility to cultivate trust between the public and city hall, and I intend to foster that trust, in part, by showcasing the wonderful, inventive work people accomplish every day in order to make Modesto a better, non-stale place.

Beginning today, this city will shine the spotlight on the folks who are working to change the narrative, and we’ll do this in three chapters.  First, we’re going to introduce you to each of the members of the executive leadership team at city hall.  These are the expert women and men who direct the various departments that make up city hall.  I want you to see their faces, and learn about what motivates them in this new series; check out our social media sites each Friday for a new profile.

Spotlight Friday Features

For the next chapter, we will focus on our employees who work extremely hard each day, all day to ensure our community has the services it needs.  Did you know some of our employees are marathon runners?  Did you know we’ve got team members who race cars on the weekend?  Did you know one of the cookbooks on your shelf may have been written by one of our own?  I’d like to introduce our extended team to you, and we will highlight our employees on our social media pages soon.

In the third chapter of this series, we want to showcase the exemplary members of our community.  We’ll be seeking to add your stories to ours, by highlighting the lives of those who overcome tremendous challenges each day and call Modesto home.  Be on the lookout for a call for stories, and let us know what life is like for you here in this great city. 

We won’t forget about the tasks at-hand in fixing our streets, helping the homeless, and watering our trees, but we may have a little fun along the way.  As you juggle all the balls in your lives, we’ll be here to support you, and we hope that you’ll be here to support us as well.

Join with me in celebrating the people who are working hard to write a new chapter for this city.  Share these stories with your networks, and share your story with me on the city’s Facebook page.