February, 2023

Here is the published article that you might have seen in the paper delivered to your house. It was limited to 150 words. Below is the original. Around 700 words.

People are already declaring their intention to run for the City Council seats in next November’s election.  I didn’t start running until June, so there’s plenty of time left if you’re thinking of it.

            My biggest surprise and disappointment in the job is that I expected that I was joining Team Lakewood. My background in Oil & Gas Exploration taught me that the best way to accomplish goals requires a coordinated team effort of skilled professionals who bring their specialties together.  City Government (probably most governments) is not a team environment. I didn’t realize that going in.  Winning politicians get their positions by beating opponents, not by working with them. There can be Team Left and Team Right, but as a hard core Moderate, those are not for me.  Furthermore, our city is run in a micro-management style, which is not conducive to a team environment.

Here is the original.

I have to wonder if I’m not the brightest bulb on the tree.   When I started this job I expected that I was joining Team Lakewood.  That we would all (City and Council) be working together to make things better.  We’d have political differences, but overall we’d push the cart up the hill a bit, if you will.  That never happened, and I’ve been perplexed and frustrated for over a year trying to figure out exactly why I don’t have a new group of friends, and close to zero influence on the direction of the City. A year is too long for a top notch problem solver like me to come up with a reasonable explanation.  That excess leads me to suggest that maybe, just maybe, I’m a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

               I assumed that I was joining Team Lakewood because of my background. I worked in the Oil & Gas Exploration Industry for over 40 years.  Our goal of drilling ‘good’ wells could never be accomplished by individuals.  Successfully finding oil reserves requires a coordinated team effort of skilled professionals who bring their specialties together. A typical team consists of Geophysicists, Geologists, Petroleum Engineers, and tons of support personnel from coders to juggies. This is an environment where everyone’s contribution is crucial. Ignoring anyone’s opinion or contribution could easily lead to a ‘bad’ well. Bottom line is that it takes a group effort to keep the lights on.

               Believing that I was on a new team, I called all the other Councilors after the elections.  Just to say hey.  None of the other Councilors called me (except the Mayor).  I also called all the other Councilors to try to set up a social visit with our significant others soon after the holidays.  That effort died on the vine – zero interest.  As a newbie on Team Lakewood in Dec 2021, I tried to arrange to send flowers to our officer who was shot in the line of duty.  No takers from Council, except the Mayor who dressed me down for the effort.  (??? Never have figured that one out) Early on I sent an email to all councilors suggesting that we share our research (on whatever topic we are interested in) – as you can guess that has never happened.    Council is collection of individuals, probably the furthest thing from a team.

               I’m of the opinion now that expecting politicians to create a team environment was pretty naïve. Winning politicians got their positions by beating opponents, not working with them. Sure there’s Team Left and Team Right, but we just saw in the US House just how much of a team the Right is.  Plus when I was heavily involved with team Left one of our favorite expressions was that a Democratic firing squad is a circle.  I identify as a Militant Moderate these days.  You might think that being in the middle means that I can work with both sides.  In practice it really means that team Left views me as 1% better than team Right, and the same for team Right. This isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

               As being part of Team Left or Team Right isn’t for me, there should still be plenty of opportunities to work as Team Lakewood, right?  Turns out, not so much. Our City Manager happens to be a micromanager.  A micromanager doesn’t believe in teamwork.   Here are a couple qualities of a micromanager (from google): Looking over the team’s shoulders to monitor what each member is working on, asking to be CC’d on every email, leaving no room for team members to take their own initiative, team members have no autonomy over how to run an assigned project, micromanagers don’t fully trust their team to perform their jobs, team members eventually become frustrated and resentful as their work is undermined at every stage.    Is it any wonder that all communications between Councilors and City Staff is supposed to flow up or down through the City Manager’s office?  I think not. Does something like this make one feel like they are part of a team?  Not even a little.