360 Review with Mike McClanahan, Kingston Springs, TN

Posted on May 11, 2015


Who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned performance review? ELGL loves them so much that we’re embarking on a “360 Review of Local Government.” 

We’re going to evaluate every single inch of the local government arena by talking to ourselves (a.k.a: other local government professionals), tech companies, journalists, professors, and anyone else who hasn’t blocked our email address.

Mike McClanahan (LinkedIn and Twitter) is the City Manager of Kingston Springs, Tennessee. Prior to that, he served as the City Manager for Clifton, TN and Management and Budget Analyst for the City of Alexandria, VA. He graduated with an MPA from George Mason University.



What I’m Proud of:

My family relocating twice for my career.

What I’m Thinking:

How long does allergy season last?

What I’m Listening to:


‘Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me’, old episodes of car talk, and the Pearl Jam channel on XM.

What I’m Reading:

My monthly PM magazine, duh!

What I’m Watching:


A lot of baseball and entertainews (i.e. Daily Show, John Oliver, etc.)

What I’m Doing:

Chasing my child around the house and the yard.

What I’m Afraid of:

Tight pants (silly) and active shooters in the workplace (scary.)

What I’m Missing:

Coke with Lime

What I Think About the Apple Watch:


I absolutely do not think about the Apple Watch.

What I Want to Know From You:

Where were you the night of September 22nd?


Best part of working in the local government arena. Most frustrating?
The best part is working creatively on projects which will impact a community. The worst part is working in ‘the fish bowl’ and dealing with local TV investigative reporters looking or creating a negative story.
Describe the current state of local government. What grade would you give it?
Diverse examples like improving broadband access, quarterbacking economic development work, and transforming local library service prove that local gov’s are doing more than ever. Residents, stakeholders, and elected officials are increasingly placing higher demands for efficient and excellent services. Grade B.
Give us three areas in which local government is succeeding:

  • Making City Hall mobile
  • Bouncing back/restoring services from the Great Recession
  • Engaging residents, stake holders, and employees

Give us three areas in which local government needs improvement:

  • Creativity, diversity, and youth in the workforce
  • Technical expertise (have you seen some of these municipal websites?)
  • Equitable public services (ADA compliance in public buildings, services/workers avoiding the ‘bad’ part of town, translation services, etc.)

For local government, was there any good that came from the Great Recession?
I entered the workforce, so there’s that…
Evaluate whether local government is prepared for the ongoing wave of retirements. What could we do to better prepare?
Speaking from experience serving in two smaller jurisdictions;
(1) cross training employees,
(2) digitizing records, documents, and working papers, and (3) engage high school students. They need to realize that Town Hall is an employment center in addition to a civic center.
In your opinion, does local government have a lack of diversity in its workforce?
Speaking as a white, male, with an Irish surname; yes. Gender, ethnicity, economic backgrounds, and religious backgrounds are all areas of concern.
“Innovation” is a trendy word and thrown around a lot in local government. What examples would you point to as government innovation?
We used $500 in City money, State grant money, labor from a County program, and the help of a local business to provide weekly curbside recycling to residents in Clifton, TN. Both the number of households recycling and the weight of recyclables leaving the City increased tremendously. The program was very efficient to residents and was wildly popular.
Evaluate local government’s willingness to embrace new technologies.
Go to the ICMA annual convention and check out all of the ‘social engagement/comment’ vendors. Of course we are embracing new technology.
Wave a magic wand – what three wishes would you grant local government?

  • Every community would have a local sugar-daddy to donate private money for projects.
  • Federal transportation funding would be uninterrupted, and federal/state grant programs would have more of a local impact.
  • No more blight/poverty.

What question(s) should we ask the next person that completes this questionnaire?
Does anyone still use their Trapper Keeper?

Supplemental Reading

New Kingston Springs city manager ready to serve

Holy *#&%, We’re Moving to Tennessee!

City manager reflects on 20-year career

The Archives: 360 Review 

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