RIBAUDO: To-Do List
Very soon the city of South Lake Tahoe will have a new city manager. Tony O’Rourke takes over in early August and, in doing so, creates an important opportunity for the city to right the ship after all the drama that it has exposed and dragged the community through. That being said, I thought I would give Tony some items for his to-do list once he arrives and gets settled.
Before you even begin, Tony, stay clear of the City Council’s poor response to the El Dorado County Grand Jury report. It’s toxic and you want no part of it. Let it stick on the City Council. Of highest importance is to take the first weeks and months to get to know everyone. Let the department heads take care of the day-to-day while you spend valuable time meeting and seeing the community for yourself.
First things first, get to know the employees (and really get to know them). Meet the department heads, but don’t stop there. Get to know people at all levels of the organization, and let them know with clarity what your expectations are. Let them know that changes are in order and the fiscal health of the city is of paramount importance. Listen to their ideas and how they think the city can be more effective in delivering services to the community. Remind them that the salaries and benefits they have are in many cases being paid for by people who have less than they do. Let them know that you will be making changes in the culture and how the city does things. Empower them and then hold them accountable.
Get to know the community, which is your real boss. Spend time with people from throughout the South Shore. Get to know the latino community. Go and watch the families who come to the recreation center and who barbecue at Regan Beach. Meet the business owners as well. Meet some of the people who stand in line at Christmas Cheer. Understand what the real issues are in the community. Know that unemployment at 17 percent is eating away at the community, especially hitting hard low income individuals and families. Go talk to Tahoe Youth & Family and the school district and hear for yourself their concerns and how vital it is that the city become much more of a participant, and play a leadership role, in solving some of South Shore’s most intractable problems. Don’t ever lose touch with the community; do right by them and they will support you, and always remember that whoever is elected to the council works for the community. Don’t be afraid to call on them.
Get to know the organizations. I know there are many to know, but reach out and build a positive relationship with El Dorado County, Douglas County, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the chambers of commerce, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, the Forest Service, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, The Tahoe Conservancy and the gaming alliance. Know that the best way to bring about positive change is through these relationships and being a part of a coalition. The city can no longer be an island standing alone. It can no longer be an organization that people and agencies avoid working with because of the hassle and drama.
Finally, take your family out and see what your new community has to offer; take a ride to Emerald Bay (go in the evening); check out any one of the many great beaches we have. Have a Rum Runner.
We are glad to have you and welcome you and your family. There is a lot to learn and to know but know this: there are many willing to help, just ask. We wish you the best of success. It’s time to get to work.
– Carl Ribaudo is a contributing columnist to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He is also a consultant, speaker and writer who lives at the South Shore. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read his full column and additional blog posts at http://www.tahoedailytribune.com/CarlRibaudo.
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