In the wake of the collapse last week of the second search in a row for a new Evanston city manager, Evanston Now sought out Don Wilson, who served on the City Council when it hired Wally Bobkiewicz and Erika Storlie as managers, for his thoughts on the situation.
Here’s what he had to say.
Wilson: The situation is disappointing, but honestly, I’m not surprised. We’ve created an untenable environment for keeping and recruiting employees.
Why is that?
Wilson: The attrition we’re seeing is not about creating change. It is a reflection of an inability by some of our elected officials to maintain a respectful and collaborative work environment.
Watch our City Council meetings and you‘ll see disrespect directed at our professional city staff on a regular basis; the people who keep this City running every day.
These employees are some of the finest, hardest working professionals I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with during my career. They are dedicated, creative and professional. It pains me to see them treated poorly, questioned incredulously and burdened with unreasonable demands by some of the Council members.
I’m also concerned that part of what’s happening is a precursor for some residents and elected officials to make the argument that we should disband the city manager form of government that has served this City well, and replace it with a strong mayor form of government.
As if having politicians clean house every four years to hire their friends will result in a better managed community.
We should learn some lessons about corruption and accountability from our neighbors. We need highly qualified and professional people to manage our City. Not a handful of people who are more concerned with their next election.
The bottom line is this. If we don’t get this figured out, no one qualified will want to work here.