March 2020

TCMA Management Messenger

TCMA Membership Survey
Management Transitions
2020 TCMA Service Awards
Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship
New Members
New Member Applications
Meet Your Colleagues
Sympathy
Living by the Athenian Oath
Employee Engagement
Ethics Corner
City Management Clinic Highlights
TCMA and #ELGLInspire Event
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings

Feedback


TCMA membership survey


Every two years, the TCMA Board updates the Strategic Plan. The Membership Survey provides helpful information as they plan for the future of your Association. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey at TCMA Membership Survey.


MANAGEMENT TRANSITIONS


Joe Ashton is the new town manager of the Town of Pantego.

Brian Barboza is the new city administrator of the City of Silverton.

John Benson is the new city manager of the City of Beeville.

Shawna Burkhart will be the new city manager of the City of Bay City, effective March 16.

Judith Cantrell is no longer the city administrator of the City of Elkhart.

Tiffany Curnutt is the new city administrator of the City of Mountain City.

Eric Foerster is the new city manager of the City of Richwood.

Ron Garza is the new city manager of the City of Edinburg, effective March 23.

Steve Jones is the new city administrator of the City of Jonestown.

Sidney J. LaQuey is serving as the interim city manager of the City of Ballinger.

Andy McCuistion will retire as the city manager of the City of Breckenridge, effective April 30.

Marian Mendoza is the new city administrator of the City of Helotes.

Ed Meza is the new town manager of the Town of Laguna Vista.

Sterling Naron will be the new city administrator of the City of Hudson Oaks, effective March 23.

Cynthia Northrop is the new city administrator of the City of Rhome.

Grayson Path will be the new city manager of the City of Paris, effective April 27.

Robert "Bobby" Salinas is the new city manager of the City of Alamo.

Joseph Salvaggio will serve as the interim city manager of the City of Leon Valley, effective May 1.

Anthony Snipes is no longer the city manager of the City of Missouri City. Bill Atkinson is serving as interim city manager.

Chris Whittaker will serve as the interim city manager of the City of Angleton, effective March 16.

Brandon Wright is the new city manager of the City of DeSoto.


2020 tcma service awards


TCMA annually recognizes members who have reached service milestones. The service awards honor TCMA members who have been Full or Associate members and in full-time service as an appointed employee of a local government entity for a minimum of 20 years. Although TCMA and ICMA are similar organizations, the criteria for service awards are not identical. TCMA service years are determined by number of years as a TCMA Full or Associate member rather than number of membership years.

Listed below are the names of those individuals identified as meeting the criteria necessary to receive TCMA service awards. Please review this list and email Kim Pendergraft or call 512-231-7400 by April 15 if you can offer any corrections to the list. These individuals will be recognized at the TCMA Annual Conference Awards Luncheon on Friday, June 5.

Life Membership
(As of July 1,2019, the following members have been reviewed by the Board and approved per the TCMA Constitution Article V. Section E.)

Allen Bogard
Doug Faseler
Hector Forestier
Jim Jeffers

TCMA 40 Year 
Julie Couch, Town Manager, Fairview
Andres Garza, Jr., City Manager, Wharton
Dion Miller, City Manager, Tulia
William Yenne, City Manager, Lake Jackson

TCMA 35 Year 
Rick Cortes, Assistant City Manager, Seguin

TCMA 30 Year
Kent Cagle, City Manager, Killeen

TCMA 25 Year
Kevin Hugman, City Manager, Duncanville
Marc Maxwell, City Manager, Sulphur Springs
Brad Stafford, City Manager, Navasota
Hugh Walker, Deputy City Manager, Bryan
Trey Yelverton, City Manager, Arlington

TCMA 20 Year
David Harris, City Administrator, Balcones Heights
Richard Jorgensen, City Manager, Gidding
Tobin Maples, City Manager, Fair Oaks Ranch
Julie Robinson, City Administrator, Spring Valley Village
Roel Roy Rodriguez, City Manager, McAllen
Zina Tedford, City Secretary, Shavano Park
Paul Virgadamo, City Administrator, Conroe
Randy Wright, City Manager, Portland


TM Scholarship

TCMA is accepting applications for the 2020 Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship. This $2,500 scholarship is available to a Texas City Management Association member’s dependent child who is a high school graduating senior and has been accepted to a Texas college or university. The deadline to apply is April 3. To learn more and apply, please click
Tom Muehlenbeck Scholarship.


New Members


The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Board on February 24,2020.

Full: Anali Alanis, Assistant City Manager, Pharr; Michael Goodrum, City Manger, Sugar Land; Ronnie Guest, Jr., City Manager, Carrizo Springs; Johnny Huizar, City Manager, Pleasanton;  Robby Silva, City Administrator, Point Comfort; Brooke Witcher, Assistant City Manager, Lubbock

Associate: Angie Allen, Director of Finance, Emory; Amy Bockes, Chief of Staff, Coppell; Jennifer Pittman, Strategic Planning Coordinator, Tyler; Joseph Salvaggio, Chief of Police, Leon Valley

Cooperating III: Ross Brady, Budget Analyst, College Station

Student: Destiny DeLillo, The University of Texas at Arlington; Sebryna Flugrath, St. Mary’s University; Emilio Levario, Texas Southern University; Kassandra Rodriguez, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; Lilian Rodriguez, The University of Texas at San Antonio; Students from The University of North Texas include: Jason Adams, Abdullah Alenezi, Jose Alvarez, Daniel Batey, Lancine Bentley, Amanda Black, Honore Britton, John Carlos Cervantes, Jeonghoon Cho, Stephanie Clayton, Nicole Conant, Kathryn Conrad, Yvonne Dadson, Nathaniel Dears, Patrick Finnell, Kyle Garcia, Myrna Gasc, Scott Hammons, Stephen Harcus, Dakari Hill, David Klein, Mary Meier, Brittany Musser, Ayubu Niyongabo, Amal Rahhal, Victor Salazar, Peter Smith, Logan Thatcher, Cesar Villacorta, Kaleen Washington, Isaiah Williams, Priscilla Yeverino


New Member Applications


The current TCMA Board policy requires that names of new member applicants be published each month in the Management Messenger. Any written objection during the subsequent 30-day period will be reviewed by the Membership Committee. If no objections are received during this time, the names will be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval. Written objections can be mailed to TCMA, Attention: Membership Committee, 1821 Rutherford Lane, Suite 400, Austin, TX 78754. Applications received in the month of February:

Full: Sonny Campbell, City Manager, Anson; Eric Foerster, City Manager, Richwood; Sidonna Foust, Assistant City Manager, Haltom City; Kurt Grant, Local Government Services Specialist, Panhandle Regional Planning Commission; Hilda Pedraza, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk, Pharr;  Krisha Perkins, City Manager, Lake Tanglewood; Carlos Sanchez, Assistant City Manager, Harlingen; Lon Squyres, City Manager, Jacinto City; Robert Swisher, City Administrator, Linden; Steven Viera, Assistant City Manager, Corpus Christi

Associate: Elvira Alonzo, Public Works Director, McAllen; Meagan Borth, Assistant to the City Manager, Lake Jackson


meet your colleagues


The TCMA Management Messenger introduces and welcomes Jeff Davis to his new position as city manager of the City of Brownfield.  Jeff began his career in public service with the City of Brownfield in August 2001 as a lineman’s helper, working through the ranks, until he was named electrical superintendent in December 2010. In September of 2017, Jeff was named assistant city manager and served in that capacity until he was named interim city manager in November of 2019.  In December of 2019, he was unanimously approved as the city manager of the City of Brownfield.   

Jeff is a lifelong resident of Brownfield and a 1993 graduate of Brownfield High School.  He is a Certified Public Manager through Texas Tech University.  He has served the citizens of Brownfield in many capacities and boards including the West Texas Municipal Power Association, the City Electrical Advisory Board, the Association of Municipal Electrical Systems, and The Texas Electric Cooperatives Safety Advisory Board. Jeff has also served the past ten years as chief goodfellow for the citizens of Terry County.

Jeff and his wife, Ofelia (Ofie), have one child, Jeffrey, who is 18 and a senior at Brownfield High School.


sympathy


TCMA is saddened by the passing of Valerie Bradley. She had recently resigned her position as managing director of community services at the City of Mesquite to focus on her health. Valerie served several years as the vice chair of the TCMA Ethics Committee and was instrumental in developing and creating the online ethics training courses as well as the Ethics Train the Trainer course. Her memorial service was held Monday, February 10, at St. Ann Parish in Coppell. You can make a donation in Valerie’s memory to the UT Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. Please keep her husband, Rob, and son, Jake, in your thoughts and prayers.


living by the athenian oath


Dan Johnson

Austin College highlights Dan Johnson, city manager of the City of Richardson, for his service to the city management profession and his influence in the lives of other serving in the profession. To read the full article, click Athenian Oath.




Employee engagement


Our family is thrilled my parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in March. I have taken notice over the past year, more than ever, the manner by which they behave towards each other. They are kind, generous, supportive, flexible, and loving with each other along with many other traits. As a child, I never witnessed my parents argue or even demonstrate ugly behaviors; they are truly each other’s biggest cheerleader. I take this as an opportunity to say congrats to my beautiful parents, but their relationship has also provided personal guidance about the way people should be treated in our organizations…with grace, kindness, and forgiveness.

It is quite possible we spend more hours with our team members at work than we spend with our family in the hours we are awake.  How do leaders demonstrate and foster behaviors that build a solid foundation of trust and a lasting relationship? I personally continue to learn about the power of influence through relationships from authors and speakers, from my own failures, and by trying different ways to engage at a personal level with people in our organization. 

People that are appreciated will always do more than expected. In October, the City of Pflugerville experienced TCEQ violations that required public notice from a failure at our water plant. Instead of blame and criticism, our Assistant City Manager James Hartshorn, organized a remodel of their breakroom by which our other Assistant City Manager Trey Fletcher and I joined in on a Sunday to clean, paint the walls, and install new furniture. A few months later, a TCEQ representative said, “Wow, you have made leaps and bounds of progress.” Those leaps and bounds weren’t about replacing mechanical parts or improving a breakroom, it was the result of empowering and caring for our people which was evident in their deep dive to improve operations.  How we improve the work lives of our organization can be found in our policy design, not just one-time events. I once had a conversation with an employee about why he didn’t take advantage of the free annual health exam on our insurance plan and he explained that he has children with disabilities and his sick time is used on them. The City of Pflugerville now provides for 10 hours a year of on the clock preventative care medical appointments, specifically geared towards caring for the wellness of our staff. 

Our City also started “PFServes” which allows employees to use 40 hours per year of on the clock time to volunteer within the City with approved nonprofit and government partners. Allowing us to have the opportunity to be bigger than our “jobs,” while providing true public service to our community, has been a creative step towards quality engagement between employees and residents.

If you want to conduct the orchestra, you have to turn your back on the crowd. To analyze the culture, we started with an employee survey, which had a surprising high level of response.  This provided a baseline for where we exceled and where we had room to improve. Additionally, we asked our management team “What are 10 things that would make our organization better,” and wow, I was not prepared for the amount of responses. Subsequently, the creation of the Unbeatable Committee allowed for employees (non-management) to start knocking out items that we could improve, all ideas stemming straight from employees. This led to policy changes such as family use of the Recreation Center to flexible work schedules to basic education about what how the city operates. Additionally, other committees were developed to tackle issues like safety, health, performance evaluations, etc. The bottom up approach decision-making model has its challenges, but the culture shift to allow employees to be the change makers has been overwhelmingly celebrated. Selfishly, my favorite committee is the Pfun Committee which has hosted a tailgate party, ice cream social, pfield day, and increased the pfun at our annual employee appreciation event. Through the process of the survey and many conversations, we also recognized the organization suffered from lack of trust among one another, not severe, but enough to result in trust training and other communication training to be implemented. Working at fostering trust is a team effort daily. 

Instead of reminding her that he told her he loved her, my father consistently shows my mother that he loves her. If we think that saying “we appreciate you” once a year at the employee Christmas luncheon will suffice, we are making great errors in creating a culture of trust. How would you react in any relationship if you were to be taken for granted, to not be appreciated, and to not know you are cared for?

In the spirit of learning, reach out to me anytime to share what you do to engage with your employees in a manner that creates a rich work environment. I am happy to learn, to get better, and to share with you our collective experiences. 

(Article submitted by Sereniah Breland, City Manager, Pflugerville)


ethics corner


Re-Building vs. Remodeling an Ethical Culture

Choices facing new city managers

The choice between remodeling an existing organizational culture and rebuilding it from the ground up is not an easy decision; fundamental questions abound. Is the foundation strong?  What are the implications for long-term maintenance? Do I have the right and ethical people for the new direction? If not, what does ideal look like and where do I find people who are a good fit?  What are the expectations of those that I serve as a manager?  How ethical is the organization?

City managers in a new city are immediately faced with these difficult choices, but it does not end there.  The manager must make a good first impression.  First impressions are lasting impressions.  The manager’s character and ethical behavior will take center stage. The spotlight shines most brightly on the new manager - the eyes of employees, members of the public, and the city council are fixed on him or her, trying to figure out exactly who this new manager is and how the new manager acts.  

Whether a manager has been through this process once, twice, five, or 10 times, the challenge is remarkably consistent. Additional experience does not necessarily result in easy answers.  A manager is likely to make mistakes, as expectations, challenges, or resource levels are never the same.  While past experience of peers, in addition to one’s own earned experience, may provide tremendous benefit, it would be a miscalculation to automatically believe an approach that works in city A will also work in city B.  

Who’s in charge around here?

The new city manager will typically need to assess the heart of their organization’s decision-making processes.  This assessment is not only for the big policy decisions about budgets, taxes, land use, and bond elections, but also the thousands of decisions made every day by every employee.  Unfortunately, the manager’s grasp is limited by reach. This limited reach is why ethics matter – if an organization does not know what “right” looks like, any decisions made outside of the manager’s line of sight are at risk for falling outside ethical bounds. The code of ethics, to which TCMA members commit, ought to drive the culture of each organization.  Hanging the code on the manager’s wall is noble and may guide that manager’s decisions, but the problem is the manager does not make every decision.  

The good news is this:  any manager can ensure their organizational foundation is strong.  Now is the time to yank the code off the wall and really, actually, intentionally use it.  Talk to employees about how ethics impacts decision-making in the organization. Take every opportunity to teach employees about the importance of their ethical decision-making.  Hire people who will respond to that teaching and contribute in a positive way and add to the foundation.  

Keep it simple

All of the persistent advice from a myriad of individuals (councilmembers, citizens, consultants, staff, peers, etc.) a manager is apt to receive can be quite a challenge. But a city manager needs to keep it within perspective.  Simply put, the TCMA Code of Ethics is all about public service.  It is a time-honored lesson on respecting the policy makers, respecting the role of the administrators, and a deep and abiding commitment to honest and selfless public service. Not everyone in an organization needs to memorize the 12 tenets, but an understanding of the nature, value, and humble beauty of public service is a definite cornerstone.  The first rule of relationship management is to put the needs of others before the needs of self, which essentially sums up the code of ethics. 

Returning to the case of the new manager, the decision to rebuild an organization’s ethics really stems from that core commitment to humble public service. If that ethical foundation is there, then all that may be required are tweaks and building upon the existing culture. Regardless of the level of ethical commitments, there are at least two constants:  1) all situations can be improved; and 2) all situations can get worse by hiring, promoting, or even retaining the wrong people.  

Did he really say “wrong people?”

Absolutely yes. Regardless of experience sets, knowledge, or abilities, a failure to hire ethical people who match an organization’s values is among the most critical mistakes made in city management. Different ideas, experiences, and beliefs all make for a more rounded team, but that should never come at the expense of a commitment to ethical public service, humility, and the confidence to stick to those values even when things get tough. The ability to confidently, politely, and transparently perform appointed duties in the face of criticism is fundamental to quality public service.  

Of course, not all positions start off equal. Some cities have solid foundations upon a manager’s arrival, and the focus turns to building upon those foundations.  Other times, it is not so easy, and everything must be built from the ground up. In any event, the process for arriving at the end goal remains the same. First, define a public service commitment statement. Second, encourage employees to behave like the trustworthy, competent, and confident experts they are, and hire those who share the qualities desired by the organization.  Third, lead by an ethical example. Finally, eliminate barriers to ethical behavior, ensure employees have the resources they need, and consistently have their back, even in failure. And, once all of that is done, have the courage to get out of employees’ way and not overcomplicate things.

(Article submitted by Paul Hofmann, City Manager, City of Bellaire)


city management clinic highlights


The TCMA City Management Clinic was held February 26-27 in the City of Granbury. More than one hundred were in attendance for this annual event.

CM Clinic

New and old friends meet to network (picture left)
T.C. Broadnax, City Manager, Dallas; Sheryl Sculley, Retired City Manager,  San Antonio; Chris Coffman, City Manager Granbury; Kenneth Williams,  City  Manager, Buda (left to right)  


TCMA and #elglinspire event


On February 19, TCMA teamed up with Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) to host an #ELGLInspire event at The University of Texas-Arlington. Seventy-three students attended, and municipal leaders shared stories about their careers and the opportunities available in local government. The next #ELGLInspire will be April 17, 2020 at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.


ELGLInspire UT Arlington


TCMA EDUCATIONAL EVENTS


William “King” Cole 2
March 26-27, 2020
Bryan

TCMA Annual Conference
June 4-7, 2020
South Padre Island

#ELGL Inspire: TCMA-ELGL Joint Events

April 17, 2020
The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Tex-ICMA Coaching Webinars
All webinars are 90 minutes in length and will begin at 12:30 p.m.
Registration information coming soon.

Thursday, April 9
Workplace Conduct: How to Deal with Water Cooler Talk

Thursday, May 21
Managing and Mastering Council-Staff Relationships: The Nuance of Governance

Thursday, June 18
Lessons in Value-Based Leadership: Leading with Principle

Wednesday, September 9
Managing Hostility in Public Discourse: Living in an Age of Anger

Thursday, October 22
Charting Your Future: Developing Your Personal Strategic Plan

Thursday, November 12
Talent Management in the 21st Century: Growing, Attracting, and Retaining Your Best


Memos on Meetings

The City Managers of Tomorrow Committee met on February 7 in Austin. Meeting minutes are available here.

The Equity Task Force met on February 21 in Buda. Meeting minutes are available here.

The Board is scheduled to meet on April 3 in Buda.

The Membership Committee is scheduled to meet on April 17 in Austin.

All information is current as of the 25th of the month prior to publication.

In-Transition Services
To see if you qualify for TCMA 
In-transition Services, please 
click here. For a list of current city management job openings in Texas click here.

Career Compass
Career Compass is a monthly column addressing career issues for local governmental professional staff. To view current and past articles, please click here.


Additional Resources
Visit icma.org for additional training opportunities, resources, and advancement of professional local government around the globe. 

If  you have some interesting news that you would like to see included in the Management Messenger, please email messenger@tml.org.