Public input sought on City Manager yearly evaluation

August 12, 2010
By

It is once again evaluation time for City Manager Jay Ash.

It is a yearly ritual, weighing and measuring the city manager’s performance.

In order to facilitate a wide variety of responses, City Council President Leo Robinson is seeking the public’s help making these evaluations.

The Council’s annual review of the City Manager’s performance is required by the City Charter and represents the Council’s continuing efforts to promote a professionally administered municipal government.

This came about following the collapse of Chelsea’ city government in the early 1990’s into a miasma of municipal corruption and economic bankruptcy.

One of the basic tenets of the new city charter that came out of that mess was to have the attitude, never again.

In that spirit – and according to the law – Chelsea’ city manager does not get a free ride.

“We stress professionalism here, and a basic tenet of a professionally run entity is evaluation of staff, especially at the CEO level,” said Councillor Robinson.

“It’s true that the Charter calls for an evaluation, however the Charter is silent on public input. We want to make sure that we engage the public, though, because this is an important undertaken which could shape the future of our municipal leadership for years to come,” Robinson added.

And it is a changing Chelsea public that Robinson is soliciting with this effort.

The general population of the city has been changing rapidly and the city is a changed place every five years; many thousands coming in to live here and many thousands leaving to go elsewhere.

Robinson explained that the evaluation process will then lead to another process when the Council will make a determination if it wishes to offer Ash a new contract. Ash’s current contract ends in June of 2011.

“It’s less than a year away, so we’re putting our ducks in a row, making sure we have the evaluation to help guide the next decision about whether we want to ask the City Manager to continue to do what he’s been doing here since 2000,” commented Robinson.

However, another question making the rounds of city hall, is whether or not Ash wants to go on in the knowledge that Ash does not see himself as the city manager forever.

The Council will evaluate Ash in eleven areas: Finance, Economic Development, Neighborhood Enhancement, Community Development, Public Safety, Government Philosophy, Personnel Administration, Policy Execution, Intergovernmental Relations, Community Leadership/Public Relations, and Overall Effectiveness. Robinson welcomes comments from the public on those eleven areas or any others that may be appropriate.

Comments are due to Robinson in writing, either by letter or email (lrobinson@chelseama.gov), by September 3, 2010. Those comments will be turned over to a subcommittee Robinson will appoint on September 13th, which will then review the comments and provide a draft evaluation back to the full Council in October. The public is invited to attend the meetings of the subcommittee once formed.

“Community input is invaluable in the work we do, especially on this topic. I hope we receive feedback, but positive and critical, so that we can have a more informed opinion of the City Manager’s performance and where the City goes for leadership in the future,” concluded Robinson.


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