The mayor and Las Vegas City Council members always like to say they don’t micromanage. They insist they let the city manager do his job.
That’s great — if it’s true. The council should set policy, while the manager should run the day-to-day operations of city government.
One of the low points of Mayor Tony Marquez’s term was when his handpicked city manager, Sharon Caballero, abruptly resigned, accusing the mayor of micromanagement.
She referred to the dozens of e-mails — many of them curt — that the mayor sent her each day. Indeed, it’s hard for a city manager to get much done when the mayor is constantly sending e-mails, demanding quick action each time.
A few weeks ago, I requested the last 20 e-mails between Marquez and City Manager Tim Dodge. This was after the mayor issued a policy in which the city would be more open to requests for its e-mails.
True to the mayor’s word, the city gave up those e-mails (with the exception of one that fell under the attorney-client privilege).
Although the mayor works in Santa Fe, he stays in constant contact with City Hall. In several of the e-mails, he wanted to know the status of the 16-page annual report that was to be mailed out to residents. He told city staffers that they were behind in that project.
In one case, he sent an e-mail directly to Diego Trujillo, the city’s computer guy, without copying it to the city manager. I guess that’s a situation where Trujillo had more than one boss -— a confusing situation for any employee.
Another e-mail was a bit more disturbing. A resident apparently went to Marquez, saying he wasn’t getting any kind of response to his issue from Dodge.
So the mayor sent an e-mail on Nov. 30 to Dodge, copying it to the resident (whose name I’m leaving out because it’s not essential): “Tim, I’ve asked you many times to call and/or visit with (the resident). It seems from you, people I’ve asked you to contact you just don’t do it. (This resident) is not the only one. Don’t be personal versus (the resident) or me. As public servants, we take care of customers. Can you please call him and brief me on the results?”
Dodge had a quick e-mailed response for the mayor: “I have a log of the times I have tried to make contact. The attached e-mail also has a response that I sent asking him how I can help. Last time, I went to visit, he had no problem and said he had not contacted you… With all due respect, Mayor, I always attempt to follow up with all calls you ask me to. (My secretary) had him on the phone five minutes ago, and he said he did not want to talk to me.”
By copying the scolding to the resident, the mayor, in effect, undercut his city manager. And the mayor didn’t seem to have investigated the situation before he attempted to put Dodge in his place.
Keep in mind that Dodge is in a pretty good position right now. He has the support of the entire City Council, and the all-but-official new mayor, Alfonso Ortiz, who is running unopposed in the March city election, has announced that he would keep Dodge.
So why was the mayor being so negative toward the city manager? Maybe it was just a bad day. But then again, based on the previous city manager’s contentions, such an e-mail may not be out of character for Marquez.
Of course, Marquez and the others say in public that they don’t micromanage. But when we find evidence to the contrary, we should report it.
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Giving little more than a week’s notice, City Attorney Carlos Quiñones announced just before Christmas that he was resigning. He didn’t even wait until the next City Council meeting to say goodbye.
I don’t know the details behind his departure, but when someone resigns with little notice, one has to wonder whether he felt pressure to leave.
David Giuliani is managing editor of the Las Vegas Optic. He may be reached at 425-6796 or email@example.com.