New city manager? Just clone Duggan, staff says


In a lively meeting Tuesday afternoon, some of the city's 650 employees told the City Council that what they would like in a new city manager is exemplified in Kevin Duggan, who is retiring from the job April 2 after 20 years.

"If we could just clone him before he goes," said one city employee.

A dozen employees spoke for a half an hour on their noon lunch break before the City Council about what they would like in a new city manager.

Some surprising observations were made about Duggan. Several employees said that Duggan knows the name and job of nearly every one of the city's 650 employees. At one point, he put on a hard hat and jeans to work with a street maintenance crew, apparently to experience the "nitty gritty" aspects of such a job, said employees Sandra Sanchez and Ray Rodrguez. They said they hoped the new city manager would be willing to do the same.

Employees could apparently sense that Duggan appreciated all of them.

Despite the fact she rarely sees Duggan, "He knows my name, he knows what I do," said one employee. "There's 650 of us and he could pick any of us out of a lineup."

"I've heard new employees say, 'That's the city manager. I've only been here a week and he knew my name,'" said Mike Fuller, the public works director.

Staff members said Duggan exemplified many of the things they want in a new city manager: he's a "strategic thinker" who is "decisive" yet "flexible." They said he pressed city staff to be available to the public, something some employees might not do otherwise.

Helen Anstead of the finance department pointed out Duggan's "ethical standards." And several employees praised his fiscally conservative approach, which has left the city in much better financial shape than most, preventing layoffs.

"We might humorously call Kevin 'Mr. Tightwad,' but that has been a huge asset," said public works employee Rey Rodriguez, referring to Kevin's ability to balance the city's budget. "You could do all of the other things well but if you don't have that down, you aren't going anywhere."

Building inspector and former union rep Richard Ames said a new city manager should have "a consensus, problem-solving approach." Someone who is apt "more to solve problems and less to lay blame."

Ames brought up what's happening in Wisconsin, where conservative Gov. Scott Walker's uncompromising stand on collective bargaining rights has exploded into massive protests. "You know that's an example of what not to get," Ames said, amid laughter.

"We inspect the sewers, we put out the fires," Ames said. "We're really an integral part of what happens here and we need to be recognized as that. Employee morale -- that's a tough one right now. We've got some tough times, everyone knows that. What's bad for the city is bad for us."

Another former union rep, code inspector Chris Costanzo, said he appreciated Duggan's "open door policy" which allowed employees to talk with him whenever he wasn't busy.

As council members prodded city staff to approach the microphone, Councilman John Inks said it might be possible that the city council isn't aware of over 50 percent of what Duggan does.

"Most of the day we don't know exactly what Kevin is doing," Inks said. "He's a very hands-on guy."

There are things "we never hear about because he takes care of them," Inks said.

In response, Fuller said "he has been an incredible liaison between staff and the council, and staff and various other agencies." Duggan has been a "conduit with the outside world" who is able to decisively say what needs to be done for a project and whether it's good timing. "I've relied on him quite a bit for that," Fuller said.

Ellis Berns, the economic development director, said Duggan is "a great interpreter of policy. How we establish programs and implement policies is critical. He protects us as staff and makes sure we don't go over our bounds. He makes sure we follow policy set by council. That's why things have worked so smoothly over the years. He knows the community, he knows the council."

Council member Tom Means joked that the only things staff must not like about Duggan are his "long Power Point presentations and bad jokes."

"I like his bad jokes," shouted an employee from the audience.


Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

No thanks. No clonning Duggan. Not when he is the highest paid city manager in Santa Clara who is living this city with a huge pension liability. Retire now, so when the state enacts reforms it will be doubtful that there will be a grandfather clause for those already retired. Meanwhile all new employees will have their benefits and retirement packages slashed.

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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

My inside staff sources tell me that some council members want to rehire Duggan. They will go through the formal hiring process and declare no acceptable candidates and then look towards bringing Duggan out of retirement.

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Posted by Laura Macias
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Mountain View City Council will be hiring a new City Manager, so whatever inside sources someone says they have that we are rehiring Kevin would be mistaken.

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Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on Feb 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm

These employees are shameless sycophants. I guess we are a free society so anybody has the right to worship anyone. Duggan is a going to end up a double dipper, without any questions. Did he really pay off the loans or is the city writing it off because he is so nice, blah,blah,blah...
Why does the city have 650 employees for a small city? I bet 90% do nothing and charge overtime for doing nothing. and add benefits too.

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Posted by vfree
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm

We need to rein in our local public employee unions. If you clone anyone, clone Scott Walker

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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm

"Several employees praised his fiscally conservative approach"?!?!?


"Most of the day we don't know exactly what Kevin is doing... There are things "we never hear about because he takes care of them"?!?!?!



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Posted by oldabelincoln
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I'm apalled at some of the comments here. I'm over 70 and have lived in many parts of the country - New England, NYC, Florida and the Bay Area. Of all of those, Mountain View has by far the best performing city services, and that's no thanks to the amateurs on the city council, it's thanks to a City Manager who knows what he's doing.

I've never had a government job, and I've never met Mr. Duggan, but I'll tell you this, big pensions are just about the only way to attract competent people to government work. In tightwad or poorly run cities (generally the same thing), the garbage collectors are known as garbage distributors - in Cambridge, Mass, home of Harvard and MIT, I never saw a clean street in 30 years.

Whining right wingers always want something for nothing - in this case, a well run city at zero cost.

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Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I've lived here 30+ years and I do know Kevin. I appreciate and admire the work he has done and the way he has done it.

He would have been a huge asset to any Silicon Valley organization, public or private. He reminds me a great deal of the old-school HP managers I met in my 24 years at that once-fine company. They too would have made it a point of pride to know the names, faces and jobs of everyone working for them. (And if anyone knows of anyone else who manages 650 people in MV and knows all their names, please give them a shout out.)

Daniel, Mr. Rodriguez's first name is spelled Rey, not Ray.

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Posted by Concerned Conservative
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Cities like Mtn. View are the reason the local governments are going to collapse under their own pension weight. If people bothered to check the salaries of these "public servants" they would be outraged! They all take more than they contribute and have no problems raising your taxes and digging into our wallets to give themselves even more perks/benefits. I hope all these cities go bankrupt and are forced to dis-incorporate, they are nothing but a drain to the tax payer and laughing all the way to the bank on our backs.

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Posted by Joshua
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I agree with oldabelincoln. It seems that some of the commenters are trying to draw parallels between the national environment (Wisconsin, etc.) and Mountain View that are not borne out by the facts of our city's situation.

I've owned in Mountain View for three years now, and I have nothing but praise for my interactions with the city. All that, and the city is in good financial shape? I've never met Mr. Duggan, but judging by results, I say three cheers for him.

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Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2011 at 11:48 am

Yeah, right, clone Duggan and keep the gravy train running and let the taxpayers just keep sucking up the cost. The fact that the state is going bankrupt and that the city has huge pension liabilities moving forward (we haven't yet begun to feel the effect of them yet) just goes to prove how our public leaders have failed us, just like corporate CEOs. There is no difference. Dream on if you think there is. If anything city managers that have got us into this mess should be held accountable--they should lose their pensions like many in the public sector have. What makes them so special and immune? It's easy to spend other people's money I guess while you go about to pad your retirement and then retire at such a young age. Don't we all wish we could.

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Posted by Blame the Councils
a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Mr. Duggan does not set salaries, Council does. Council is responsible for approving the pay, benefits, etc. that is negotiated or proposed for employees. Why hasn't Council put an end to the "gravy train?" Mr. Duggan is not to blame, leave the poor man alone.

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Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm

For you critics of Mr. Duggan, thank your lucky stars you weren't competing with him for your job--he would have out-performed you. Most of you critics probably would not have lasted more than a year in his job and would have quit because of burn-out or the pay wasn't worth it, or would have been fired by the Council because you couldn't cut it. But then again, these are the sort of diatribes we have all come to expect from Tea-Baggers.

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Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Take the case of Bell, CA to find out howcouncils can be manipulated by city managers while no one at the State level bats an eye. The general assumption in this town is that we can not expect anything of quality from city hall without paying top dollar for it. That's pretty flawed logic. Duggan presided over the most generous pay and benefit packages in MV history. We've got over 20 firefighters alone making well over $200,000 a year. Duggan is the highest paid city manager around. Two high paid administrators last year expertly planned their retirements and announcing them so that they could return to work the day after they retired to max out their salary and double-dip for four more months since they were so irreplaceable. One of them was even involved in negotiating the contracts allowing for such nonsense. The pension liabilities that will soon crush this city's budget were all under Duggan's watch. He's leaving this city with a huge millstone of liabilities around its neck. There is a wave of high-priced pensions coming up for this city--some say more like a Tsunami. Any high price tag public employee putting in for retirement now is most likely trying to get their package set in stone before big changes take place owing to legislation underway in the state capital. The state is in debt nearly 45 billion dollars. Take a look what's going on in Wisconsin. Teachers are being laid off, class sizes are increasing and taxes will keep going up. I'm not describing fantasy land, I'm describing reality.

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