The city council has an opportunity to make the right decision and appoint Les White interim city manager. He is a man of integrity and competence, and he has served the city well in the past. Although their options may be limited, choosing White would be a smart and very popular move by the council.
The job facing White would be a daunting one, but if he approaches it piece-by-piece in his usual workmanlike manner, things could go well; they cannot go much worse than the recent few years.
It is very difficult to be effective as mayor if you do not have a competent, ethical and dedicated staff. Without such a group, your chances of even a little bit of success are quite limited. Even in a relatively easy-to-run city like San Jose, so many things can go wrong. As the Duke of Wellington said when asked of the caliber of his men, “I don’t know, sir, what effect they have on the enemy, but they scare the hell out of me!” Our so-called friends and allies can cause us more trouble than our enemies at times. So the contenders for mayor—one of which will catch the piano—should be ecstatic that they may have someone in the city manager’s office who can give them a head start on the quality of employees present on their first day.
This is not the city of Dutch Hamann, nor is it the place that I was privileged to be mayor of in the eighties. New problems, as Lincoln said, demand new solutions. Without them, we all fail. The appointment of Les White as interim city manager would be a good way to begin solving our many problems.