Not many of us are Maine town managers.
Yet Maine is blessed with 108 small communities. That have such public servants at the helm. Leading the way. Tending the affairs of what happens out in the open, behind the scenes too day to day. Nightly meetings with selectmen, councilors can go smoothly, be harmonious, productive.
Or go another direction. Tedious, contentious and plain down right ugly. Very counter productive if public opinion goes sour. Because of apathy, disconnect or plain lack of a clear consensus of what everyone’s role is to help the process. That can seem fuzzy, elusive, overwhelming. Change from old ways of doing things mean positive steps with concrete results happen too slow for the populace.
Like a sports team with a quality bench but a poor coach or the other way around.
There is a challenge to make it work, all communicate, become educated, to step into the same set of realistic expectations. For the options in the highly important decision making.
With what you have for people skill sets, numbers, talents, positives and the negative realities in the Maine community. The burg, village, community you are blessed to be a part of, involved with as a local taxpayer, parent, and employee or employer. Or a snowbird retired and watching with perspective from other areas that struggled, was victorious with their own set of municipal ups and downs.
When is time for the delicate adjustment and where in town government with who and why?
New chemistry to make the local Maine town government come together is sometimes needed. But focus on the real problems, solutions, not personalities or ancient history, personal agendas wins the day for the greater good for all.
Frustration, folks getting bloodied, silenced, ignored or beat up in the news, over coffee, social media circles often happens with just plain lack of information. Or the wrong set of facts to stay objective. Jumping to conclusions to over simplify more complex issues happens all the time.
A tumble weed of replacement, finger pointing, badgering, who gets the blame rolls, blows up and down Main street. It roams freely when bigger tasks, business decisions need tending. Before someone hollers last guy or gal out of the small Maine town, turn off the lights.
“Next… you’re outta here” hollered too often. As yanked, starting over and delay in the retraining to get up to speed becomes a time and money wasting standard operating ritual. In the revolving door search for the right town manager that can become a vicious cycle. If you don’t recognize what the problems are to match make for the right cowboy or cowgirl for the rodeo to straighten out what’s ailing.
What does the small Maine town need for a leader? Not the right fit means no longevity happens. A lot.
There are other elements that help or hurt the process of town survival beyond the fearless leader, the economic condition strain when financial revenue sharing streams from the state, Uncle Sam get turned off, dry up.
The other local small town realities to meet mandates, keep up and stay legal all create their own natural added weight. No matter who the current slate of leadership is nor how well intentioned all are to hammer out a partnership that tailor fits the unique small Maine town jewel local philosophy.
Discouragement is a snake bite, a venomous curse.
So is the recoil and rattler sound of recalling history with a recalcitrant narrow view. That creates a gravity that can keep a town lamenting past mistakes. Lashing itself like self mutilation with the cat o nines tails. Instead of focusing on what is up ahead for a path to take to have victories. To keep moving, not lose momentum. To zero in on today, not being dragged back into yesterday that is long gone.
Have a funeral and bury those mantras about “they” who are long dead, did the best they could, had success that is stripped away and instead only perceived mistakes are served. Get the spotlight. That led to this fine kettle of fish we find ourselves in are all courtesy of long ago blunders of “they”. Well “they” are dead, buried and should be allowed to rest in peace. I think that works best.
Often the part of the problem is weak leadership or just not unified but strong sub-elements who run their own show under the big top are not questioned.
Undermine to feather their own nest and build walls around an untouchable regime not to be questioned. Not always transparent and allowed to operate pretty much freely from public scrutiny because they always have. Their power is shifted with a strong town manager that tactfully aligns his department heads, council or selectmen if he or she realizes a clock is ticking. Results, to keep the RPM’s strong, flywheel turning and the town moving is critical or public opinion wanes quickly. And marching orders can result.
From those power centers who feel threatened combined with a portion of the public not keen, well versed on the vagaries of tifs, bonds, economic development, litigation, mediation, public education, the bid process to keep it local. For good old common sense that can get forgotten when overspending becomes a habit with money that just is not there. The cases of a few want it, push for it. With the galloping gimmees drunken sailor approach to spending replacing the “but do we really need it” in the long run review that is not happening.
What is the expression about the mouth writing checks that the butt can’t cash?
That is not frugal Maine where saving money is an art form. Has to be because less coin to manage makes you have way better impulse control. Get value, wait for it or keep shopping, doing your homework until you can.
The smart negotiating of salaries, embracing automation, getting along with unions, school departments and going easy on town attorney billable hours to avoid lawsuits. Lessons in public relations and not to open your mouth before thinking of the repercussions, the litigation.
Carrying a large roll of duct tape.
What you let loose out in the press, media with your soundbites, quotes. Part of a response for a question gets air, ink that shocks and is taken out of context. The juicy part of an answer kept, the disclaimer shucked. Missing a solid front at the top can keep the special interest groups of a small town operating quite nicely in the confusion too. Just the way they like it in King making, in the hoisting up one to their liking in the foray, perpetuation of petty small town politics.
Making sense of laws passed many miles, counties away on the federal and state level.
In their own county and local community. Raising money from property and sale taxes, service, permit, licensing fees. To administer the paying the bills for everything from public safety to keeping Maine local roads free of snow, potholes.
The bridges solid and continuing to span waterways. Educating our youth does not stop. Making the area a safe, family oriented locality.
With a modern infrastructure, health care providers, industry, commercial activity to create a source of income. The pride of an income to know the joy of home ownership.
Planning the future to assure the town remains more than a name on a map. With more than history as it blazes the way, survives, prospers, grows. What makes a small Maine town great?
Why do some Maine towns do a better tinkering, the job of making the most of what they have to work with all the locals on board? Seemingly focused on most of the same goals?
It takes more than a Maine town manager and starting with assessment of what the area strengths are. What’s the focus for the present, that supports the dosey doe onto the long term goals on the list. Clear sound planning for the how to accomplish those goals. And the town manager of Maine out there in the community not hiding in his or her office out of touch. Beating the drum for all he or she is worth beyond the 40 hour a weeks. To make sure it all comes together as the community’s biggest cheerleader, the CEO of a small Maine town.