The 1992 presidential race introduced us to a truly unique candidate. Texas-born and bred Ross Perot and his distinctive accent and homespun quotes made us laugh and think at the same time. Although his bid for the nation's highest office was unsuccessful, he had experience as the head of several successful corporations and had been involved in public affairs for the previous three decades. He had a knack for great quotes. Here’s one of my favorites:
“I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to be smart to run a business, but you do have to be smart enough to surround yourself with good people–people with vision, imagination, and determination.”
So true. And it’s a lesson for municipal management as well as business.
I admire a person who doesn't claim to know everything and isn't afraid to have a qualified team to help them be successful. To navigate the complexities of today's local government, you need the support and guidance of a team of professionals. In my opinion, the two most important are your engineer and your solicitor.
During my tenure as a township manager, I challenged my road crew to take on large projects that most wouldn't even consider. We had a very large culvert that was in desperate need of replacement. I had personal experience in constructing an aluminum box culvert and immediately pushed for this type of replacement. The cost is far less than other options, and I was known for my frugality. Our engineer looked at all the options for me and convinced me that a precast concrete system would actually be more cost-effective. The reason was that the aluminum options were very labor-intensive. The concrete version could be set in one day. Our own crew took over once set in place, and the road was only closed for a few days versus weeks with other choices. The residents were extremely impressed with the speed in which we completed this large project. It went so well that we did another similar install the following year with the same results. I credit our engineer for providing good advice.
Regarding legal woes, you just can't afford not to have a knowledgeable solicitor. I would like to say that I always suggested that the council appoint a solicitor associated with a more prominent established law firm rather than a single attorney. With a firm behind your attorney, you have an even larger pool of professionals to draw from who have experience in a multitude of legal fields.
Our township received outstanding representation during a tumultuous battle over sewage treatment options. Dealing with the Commonwealth's environmental regulators has its own challenges, and we even ended up in front of the Environmental Hearing Board. Certainly, I was ill-prepared for such an undertaking. However, due to the skills of our solicitor and his team, we successfully provided a quality public utility to the residents.
I would like to say that I make it a policy to never just take the word of our professionals. They aren't always right, and it's good to be sure that all options are taken into consideration. After all, this wasn't my first day on the job either. That's what being a team is all about—working together to make the best suggestions for the council to consider.
If you're looking for a professional team to assist with improving your operation, like a search for a quality manager or the implementation of an STMP, then look no further than Keystone Municipal Solutions. As I always say, "fire this thing up,” and like Ross Perot said, “When building a team, I always search first for people who love to win. If I can’t find any of those, I look for people who hate to lose.”
About the Author
David L. Anthony is a member of the Keystone Municipal Solutions team of experts. He is a veteran of municipal government, having served more than 33 years in various positions of public service. Contact him at email@example.com. To learn more about David and the Keystone Municipal Solutions team, click here.