City Government

City Workers Coming And Going

This cryptic note came in Monday and got us to thinking.
“Please start a thread on Guardian regarding where are the City dept heads. Yes, the Police Chief has problems, but what about Fire Chief? Did he ever move into the city? Earn a bachelor’s degree? These were the posted requirements, but?”

We noticed on again, off again, KTVB newsy Justin Core has left the PR post at Lauren McLean’s mayor office and is returning to the TV station.. Seems like he is at least the fourth or fifth to hold and leave that post during her administration.

She also recently announced a proposed 45 additional city government workers to handle the work created by growth, but the City Admin continues to seek more businesses, offer assorted “incentives” to developers, hence more people and more demand for services. If they would simply welcome only those people and businesses willing to pay their fair share of taxes and a fair wage it would solve many of our problems.

New planning director comes from Atlanta, GA and wants us to think differently than we have been thinking.

We would welcome any INFORMED comments about what’s happening with our local government. PLEASE PLEASE, no nasty general negative comments not supported by facts.

Comments & Discussion

17 comments for “City Workers Coming And Going”

  1. western guy
    May 30, 2022, 9:11 pm

    Fact: you never hear about Boise City department heads (except the COP who has legal problems).

    Have the ‘spokespersons’ taken over all City departments? Or has the ‘Community Engagement department’ absorbed all the duties of Council-approved department heads?

    Or is the Mayor/Council afraid of the PD and FD unions so the dept directors are kept under raps?

  2. Dave Kangas
    May 31, 2022, 8:45 am

    Yes, it seems the City of Boise has an employee retention problem. I believe Planning and Devlopment has seen the largest out movement of lonng time planners leaving, some for less money. We have also seen the departure of Arts and History director and that replacement also now leaving. While each departing person has been quiet about why, the significant movement is an indicator that the City of Boise apparently is not the best place to wrok anymore.

    The new planning director has been badly needed for a long time, especiallly in this period of growth, and a new zoning code rewrite. His presence is already being felt in the rewrite process. The ZCR is being reviewed and proposed changes are being reviewed. While some of the changhes are welcome some may not be, but at least the rewrite is being looked at through a lense of what we want Boise and our neighbrhoods to be, rather than a broad across the board approach, expecting all apsects to work everywhere.

    The large increased number of employees should concern us all. Wages, benefits and pensions are one of the largest cost centers Boise has and it continues to grow. Retaining employees has also evolved into one of high wages, significant wage increases vs a fun place to work in a great city. Of course bringing people in from out of area has its challenges due to housing costs.

    Growth is tough cookie to pay for or callculate the actual costs. Of course, we saw the City backing away from annexing SW Boise since the benefot of impact fees was lost. Fire stations are expensive and it seems impact fees don’t keep up the cost to build them(?). Growth is great publicity and the City wants those impact fees and increased property tax revenue, IMO, but it also comes with costs both monetary and in quality of life.

  3. David Klinger
    May 31, 2022, 10:16 am

    One of the most under-reported stories in Boise over the past year has been the exodus of senior-level City appointees and mid-level staff for greener pastures elsewhere … at a time when area growth is at record levels, the municipal workload has increased exponentially, and yet the City continues to hype itself as the “go-to” destination for in-migrants. Case in point: the Boise city planning department, whose directorship sat vacant for a year … whose acting director, the highly-respected Cody Riddle, left for Moscow … and whose departmental management was staffed out to a pricey human relations firm for most of that year. Ted Vanegas, a well-regarded “institutional memory” on historic preservation matters, departed for Clark County, Washington; the City actually considered simply rotating his duties among whomever might be available in the interim. Vanegas’ replacement, the bright and responsive Nathan Hallam, we understand lasted about two weeks in the City’s employ before he, too, departed. There are numerous, numerous other examples of staff attrition in this one department over the past 18 months, which is mirrored in other City departments by a hemorrhaging pattern of departures, resignations, and retirements of talented public servants with deep knowledge in their fields. People leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, of course — advancement, salary hikes, family reasons. But a “deep dive” needs to be taken by the local news media into why, at this critical time, so many public employees have been leaving city government … at a crucial moment when Boise can’t afford such a cascading loss of knowledge, experience, and talent. Perhaps, in the midst of Boise’s rampant growth, a cadre of public servants who have the knowledge and local institutional wisdom to push back a little on unwise growth and development isn’t actually what’s wanted.

  4. Think how much we’d save at all levels of government if ALL of the former reporters went back where they came from.

  5. Why are employees leaving?? Did you consider asking?
    Lauren and the city council’s agenda is destructive and the ability to work with them is impossible. One employee that I knew worked in communications and left because the Lauren rule is “follow directions even if I am wrong.”

  6. I believe that many are leaving/retiring simply because there is not the sense of unity there once was in the City.

    The current administration has created an artificial level of government between the citizens and city employees that didn’t used to exist. This is frustrating to both employees and citizens.

    Bringing in outside talent with different points of view is great but when you replace the whole local administrative culture and talent almost completely with outsiders, like happened at the police department, it is going to create turnover because people want to believe that long term contributions and commitment matter.

    The replacement of the Fire chief may have needed to happen, but it was done in a clumsy and awkward way.

    Transformational leadership is great, when it is needed, but transforming simply to put your “mark” on something is not always welcome or well received by those feeling as if they are being pushed out.

    Being micromanaged when you feel you are competent, which most of our city employees are, is never pleasant.

    I doubt most are leaving just to get better pay, as there is management study after management study that given adequate pay, that is seldom a reason people leave for other jobs.

    Attitude reflects leadership.

  7. “no nasty general negative comments not supported by facts.”

    No nasty comments (despite the OP and current comments).
    Facts are needed?

    So, changing the standard policy?

  8. I understand Jennifer Tomlinson, who had been with Parks Dept., left. No idea why – but I do recall her standing in front of a briefing session/work session full of SW Boise residents on the proposed city swap of Murgoitio Park to the Harris Ranch developer Doug Fowler last summer for more ugly sprawl. She was trying to explain the insanely under-valued appraisal of the Murgoitio Park lands (160 acres) vs. the too-steep-to build-on 13 or so acres Harris was offering – by a high voltage power line, too if i recall correctly. That whole sordid episode can’t have been pleasant to try to make excuses for.

  9. I agree that Planning and Development has been hard hit. The grapevine says that CP EC was running it.

    The city overall is probably modestly more upset employment wise than usual.

    Like did the firemen get the degree and move in? Or is it really important?

    Are they trying to look at what the real standards and competencies are? Perhaps they need a class in city management nuts and bolts.

    It is not really fair to cast blame without personal stories.

  10. Planning department has taken a big hit over the past 2 years as others have said. Other departures not listed have ended up at ACHD, CCDC and and planning director in north Idaho.

  11. western guy
    Jun 1, 2022, 4:13 pm

    CCDC has been the dumping ground of disgruntled/no longer wanted employees from Boise City.

    Look at there website and track there history. Then, look at the CCDC board and their connections. What Beater started continues.

  12. The city of Boise’s motto used to be the most livable city in the country. Now it is, creating a city for everyone.

    There are many vehicles on our Boise roads without licenses on the front bumper. isn’t there an Idaho code for front plates? I know it’s a little thing however, if our elected public servants don’t enforce something as obvious as this how can we expect they would be able to enforce speeding, running stop signs, tailgating and other unsafe driving habits.
    Maybe our problem is public servants not wanting or knowing how to do their job.

  13. Mass exodus
    Jun 1, 2022, 10:18 pm

    Look at the City Attorney’s Office. Since McClean appointee Jayme Sullivan took over 6 of the 7 senior mangers have left (1 to retirement and 1 to be a judge) after an insane amount of collective tenure with the city. The only one that has stuck around is the youngest and least experienced one. The office has been reconfigured to have less managers but then they hired an old Sullivan friend to some made up executive position. The civil division has ballooned with top talent taking off. The criminal division folks have flown the coup as well. The criminal side lost 6 prosecutors (just shy of half of all prosecutors) from September to January. All of those people went to other government work (AG-1, Ada PA-3, Ada PD-1, Canyon PA-1). That doesn’t include the few who took off a few months before the mass exodus.

    And don’t forget the HR head Sara Borden being a former consultant after the prior the director Kelcy Stewart, who was an in-house hire, took off for greener pastures…to work with the HR boss before her Shawn Miller. Their company has a healthy amount of former city employees.

  14. Kristin Young
    Jun 2, 2022, 7:31 am

    Thanks to the guardian for addressing this issue. Follow the CCDC and how incestual they truly are. They appear to be where all the back door deals are set. Interesting how they have employees and their cronies in board positions of neighborhood associations. Seems like a full proof way to push their agendas. I’m also seeing a lot of influence from the Urban Land institute. It would be interesting to know more about them and their close relationship with the mayor and city powers. There is shady undermining definitely going on. Boise citizens should be concerned.

  15. Chickenhawk
    Jun 2, 2022, 11:58 am

    It is pretty rare for someone to leave government service as a PR flak to return to television news, especially the same station. It’s usually the other way around, as these young reporters barely last a year dealing with low pay and extremely high stress.

    A “deep dive” into why this crazy turnover is happening would be beneficial, but probably not as high a priority to the television news as corporate mandated filler packages from sister stations and subliminal advertising. Perhaps Justin Corr can change that!

  16. How about the command staff at the police department? Almost all of them left early paying alot of money to PERSI. Now the current ones are leaving early.

  17. Western guy
    Jun 4, 2022, 7:57 pm

    Back to my original question regarding Boise City dept heads: where is the Boise fire chief?

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