Fifty Nifty Takeaways
What do we hope to learn from this series? We hope you will gain a better understanding of the unique characteristics of local government in each state, we hope you will learn that there are others like you who are motivated to make a difference through the public sector, and we hope you will learn that it is best to learn from others’ mistakes than yours.
Our Take on Missouri
The 50 Nifty has arrived again in the “Show Me State.” Last time Jennifer Gray, City of Des Peres, Assistant City Administrator discussed local government in Missouri and her rise from management intern to assistant city administrator. This time Andy Morris will discuss managing the city of Moberly.
We’ll return to Andy shortly but let’s find out about Missouri. The first thing to know is if you want to have a good time Missouri might be the place for you. Missouri has some of the least restrictive laws toward alcohol and tobacco. Missouri has no statewide open container law or prohibition on drinking in public, no alcohol-related blue laws, no local option, no precise locations for selling liquor by the package (allowing even drug stores and gas stations to sell any kind of liquor), and no differentiation of laws based on alcohol percentage. Missouri has no laws prohibiting “consumption” of alcohol by minors (as opposed to possession), and state law protects persons from arrest or criminal penalty for public intoxication.
Some of Missouri’s pop culture contributions include Nelly, Mark Twain, 1904 Summer Olympics, Tina Turner, and Meet Me in Saint Louis. As if that wasn’t enough, Missouri is also home to Branson which is a mecca in the country music world.
Directing our attention toward government, Missouri is viewed as a bellweather in presidential elections. The state had a longer stretch of supporting the winning presidential candidate than any other state, having voted with the nation in every election since 1904 with three exceptions Harry S Truman (1884–1972), the 33rd President of the United States (Democrat, 1945–1953), was born in Lamar.
Missouri has 114 counties and one independent city (St. Louis). Jefferson City is the capital of Missouri.The five largest cities in Missouri are Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Independence, and Columbia. And luckily, for your readily pleasure, Missouri has its share of obscure laws.
Marceline: Minors are allowed to purchase rolling paper and tobacco but not lighters.
Mole: Scaring babies is illegal.
Purdy: Dancing is not allowed.
St. Louis: Milk men may not run while on duty.
Moberly City Manager
Experience: City manager, Hannibal, MO and City administrator, Macon, MO
Background Check on Andy
In 2007, Andy was appointed the city manager in Moberly, MO. Previously, Andy served as the city manager in Ottumwa, Iowa after serving as the city manager in Hannibal, MO. Prior to that he was city administrator at Macon, MO, and community development director in Union, MO.
Background Check on Moberly
Founded in 1866, Moberly’s explosive growth in 1873 earned it the title, “The Magic City.” This largest city in Randolph County has a legacy of railroading lasting to this day. The current population is 13,974.
Moberly is the product of an 1866 railroad auction. The Chariton and Randolph Railroad connected with the North Missouri Railroad Company here. With the coming of the Wabash Railroad Shops in 1873, Moberly seemed to spring from the prairie overnight, and was subsequently dubbed “The Magic City.”
The town is home to two colleges: Central Christian College of the Bible and Moberly Area Community College.
Notable residents: Omar Bradley, US Army general, Brent Briscoe, actor, writer and director, and Mike Wilson, filmmaker.
Best piece of advice from your parents. Put money in your savings account, pay yourself.
(Complete the sentence) Before I die I want to…….See my sons grow up to get married and start a family.
In a dream world, which bands would headline your retirement party?
- Coldplay “Fix You”
- The Beatles “Hey Jude”
- The Mama’s & Papa’s “Dream a Little Dream”
Three most influential books in your life.
- “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Margaret Mitchell
- “Rich and the Rest of Us” by West & Smiley
- “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
If you could FaceTime with five people (dead or alive and not including family members), who would be on the list?
- My Father
- Robert F. Kennedy
- Ike Mitchell (father-in-law)
Describe the inside of your car. Relatively clean, most important, paid off!
What’s the meaning of life? Reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves.
Q & A
Give us three bullet points that best describe local government in your state.
- For the most part, very professional
- Forming Partnerships, utilizing consultants
- Doing more with fewer resources
We’ll assume you didn’t grow up dreaming about a career in local government. What was your dream job as a 12-year old? What was your first local government job? How did you end up in local government?
- My first local government job; I was an intern in the City Manager’s office in Broomfield, Colorado, and later in Ottawa, Kansas
- I ended up in city management as a back up plan in college. My plan was to major in English or some pre-law program and become an attorney. Scary for the legal profession.
Give us your top three career accomplishments.
- As an economic development director, I played an instrumental role in recruiting ten manufacturing plants in one community.
- Turning budget deficits into budget surpluses
- Launching the house painting program for people of low to moderate income
We often learn from our mistakes. Name one or two career mistakes that you have made that you think we could learn from.
When you make a mistake, admit it, own it. People respond to authenticity. Richard Nixon would have gone down in history as one of our truly great presidents if when informed of the “plumbers” activities, called a press conference on the east lawn, and publicly fired all of them. I had been manager of this particular city for about five months and we were launching into the budget process. Our treasurer had a practice of combining real and personal property tax revenues under one line item. I wanted them separated, and informed the treasurer to do so. After the budget document was completed, I noticed the separated line item for real estate encapsulated all of my revenue, and accounted for the personal property revenue was counted twice! I went to the Mayor, took responsibility for the mistake. Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” gives an excellent analogy for leaders and how they handle mistakes with themselves and their subordinates. Check out the window vs. the mirror.
Our experience has been many of our friends, family, and neighbors are not well versed in what it is we do in local government, many think we are a “planner” or “mayor”. Has this been your experience?
The Mayor and I spoke to a group of second graders at their school. We stood side by side as every question was directly to the Mayor. Perhaps because he felt sorry for me, a young man raised his hand and said “I want to ask him a question”. I stepped forward and he said, “Do you know the Mayor?” I pointed the Mayor and sat down; which is what I should have done from the very beginning.
How can local governments better communicate their role in the everyday lives of the community?
Certainly through social media. However, I am intrigued by efforts by city officials to hold more public forums. The City of Windsor Heights, Iowa, holds (certain) outdoor City Council meetings, and they encourage citizen dialogue. As our Mayor ahs told me on numerous occasions, “sometimes, somebody has to tell you, your body is ugly”. We need to be out front with the public in open settings.
Would you encourage your family and friends to consider a career in local government?
Hypothetically, if we find ourselves interviewing for a job in front of you, talk about three steps we can take to make a good impression.
- Make your answers short and concise. Reminds me of the saying; you ask someone what time it is and they tell you how a watch works. I have told people on more than one occasion I have interviewed, stop talking so I can move to the next question.
- Virtually everyone who interviews gets the question, what are your strong points; I am a hard worker, I’m focused, I help little old ladies across the street bla, bla, bla. I ask, what are your weak points. Everyone has them. Once a person told me they could not think of any. I asked if I called your spouse would I get one? I guarantee, if you asked my wife she would ask volume one, two, three, or four?
Bill Sachs, City Manager of Atchison, Kansas
Ronald Averyt, Academic Advisor, Ottawa University
(Complete the sentence) In 2018, local government will be ……Local government services will be more out sourced to the private sector, and/or consultants; which not an entirely bad progression.
What is the biggest challenge facing our profession? We need more women and minorities.
- Morris leaving
- Morris: City plans ‘may not reduce poverty’
- MOBERLY PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
- Council: Yay to street bids — with a catch
- “Hannibal officials hope to improve airport”
- Ottumwa Has A New City Manager
50 Nifty Profiles
- WI: Andy Pederson, Village of Bayside, Village Manager
- AL: Sam Gaston, City of Mountain Brook, City Manager
- CO: Robb Kolstad, Management and Budget Director, City of Thornton
- OK: Larry Stevens, City of Edmond, City Manager
- FL: Lee Feldman, City of Fort Lauderdale, City Manager
- GA: Peggy Merriss, City of Decatur, City Manager
- MO: Jennifer Gray, City of Des Peres, Assistant City Administrator
- NE: Larry Burks, City of Bellevue, Assistant City Administrator
- TX: Amy Buckert, City of Balcones Heights, City Administrator
- NC: Eric Peterson, Town of Hillsborough, Town Manager
- MD: Laura Allen, Town of Berlin, Town Administrator
- IL: Randy Recklaus, Village of Clarendon Hills, Village Manager
- NC: Mitchell Silver, City of Raleigh and American Planning Association
- IL: Patrick Rollens, Village of Oak Park, Social Media and Communications
- KY: Laura Milam Ross, Kentucky League of Cities
- AZ: Gabriel L. Engeland, Town of Gilbert, Assistant to the Town Manager
- SD: Sean Pederson, City of Canton, City Manager
- MI: Clay Pearson, City of Novi, City Manager
- WA/UT: Jon Amundson, City of Richland, WA and City of Orem, UT
- CA, FL, OR: Douglas Ayres, Former City Manager of Inglewood (CA), Melbourne (FL), and Salem (OR)
- California: Brian Angus, Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Chief Executive Officer
- Washington/California: Julie Underwood, Shoreline City Manager
- NY: Jay Gsell, Genesee County, County Manager
- SC: Katherine Hendricks, City of Pickens Administrator
- CO: Tim Gagen, Breckenridge Town Manager
- UT: Rick Davis, West Jordan City Manager
- WA: Doug Schulze, Bainbridge Island City Manager and WCMA President
- IA: Geoff Fruin, City of Iowa City, Assistant to the City Manager
- CT: Roger Kemp, Former City Manager and Current President, Kemp Consulting
- AR: Jeff Dingman, Fort Smith Deputy City Administrator