WCMA Conference on June 20th

We were afforded the opportunity to attend the Wisconsin City/County Management Association meeting on June 20th.  It was held in LaCrosse, and the theme was "Strategies for Modern Leadership."   The day we attended, the keynote speaker was Ted Gaebler, co-author of the best-selling book Reinventing Government which served as the basis for President Clinton's efforts to restructure the federal government in the 1990s.   Mr. Gaebler is currently the city manager of Rancho Cordova, CA, which has only been incorporated for 10 years.   Since it was a newly-incorporated city, the elected officials had no previous expectations, and were ready and willing to innovate and allow the city manager to be entrepreneurial.    Mr. Gaebler's talk was provocative and engaging.   We enjoyed it immensely, and were able to relate his points to our classroom discussions on the nature of the city manager form of government. 

The afternoon consisted of two breakout sessions from which to choose.  One was on the effects of the Affordable Care Act on local governments in Wisconsin, and the other one was on the need for communities to consider passing "anti-scrapping" ordinances to prevent less-than-honest developers from coming in and clearing a vacant property of scrap materials and then leaving without doing approporiate redevelopment.    Dr. Baker, Tom, and Russ went to the ACA session, while the students attended the "anti-scrapping" sessions.   Both were very informative.   We were also able to reconnect with Scot Simpson, city administrator at River Falls, WI, who hosted the LGMIP in 2010. 

Here is a picture of Ted Gaebler making his presentation:


And, here are the interns listening intently to him:


Student comments/reactions:

     Today we took a nice trip to La Crosse, Wisconsin to attend the WCMA and WAMCAM Annual Meeting and Conference. We ate a very nice breakfast, and then listened to Ted Gaebler, author of Re-Inventing Government. Gaebler is the city manager of Rancho Cordova, California. The city is around a decade in age, and Gaebler made it sound like a utopian neighborhood. As the city manager, he has done things that some would probably view as quite radical. While watching his presentation, I was very taken aback by how he runs his city. I think it is great that his city government works so well, but I don’t think that those ideas are practical for most local governments. As the only manager that the city has had, I think he is able to get away with things that most if not all other managers would not be able to get away with. His ideas about workplace events were neat. In Eau Claire, there are department outings, but as far as I know they do not have interdepartmental events. Another concept that I found interesting was the small group meetings about certain issues. He spoke of how some people have down time in their jobs, and that can be utilized by making them a member of one of these small groups. I am unsure if this is a widespread concept, but I thought that it was a very good idea and it should be used in all offices. After this presentation, we ate lunch while listening to the WCMA business meeting. After lunch we split off to two separate meetings, one about anti-scrapping and the other about healthcare. I chose to attend the meeting about anti-scrapping. The presentation was titled: "Remember the 'Music Man': Why Your Municipality Needs an Anti-Scrapping Ordinance." The presentation was very hands-on, as everyone was able to participate in different scenarios that were presented. I learned that an ordinance having to do with anti-scrapping would save a lot of time and money in the contracting process…. Karen Daniel-Hamberg.