Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A new city manager for a new mayor...

So, Dave Limardi has resigned. The Highland Park Patch reports that his resignation is effective January 1 as stated in his letter to Mayor Nancy Rotering and City Council.  He has held the position for more than 18 years and everyone will acknowledge that he has been a strong manager.  Some might say, too strong, although others might say that certain mayors and city councilmen were just too weak.  His leaving will make many glad (no more "Limardi-goo" as some have called his approach to working with the City) and some will miss him.  He has helped some, ignored and harmed others. We each have our own perspective, all of which is credible.  How we ultimately view his term in HP depends on how much contact we had and what the outcome was.

Praises, genuine and disingenuous, have been and will be heaped on Mr. Limardi.  It is likely that both former Mayor Mike Belsky and Councilman Jim Kirsch's praises are sincere.  They worked closely with Dave for more than a decade and relied on him -- far too much, which is one of the reasons that the Master Neighborhood Storm and Sanitary Sewer program was accepted and, ultimately, repetitively defended, by City Council.   It cost one exceptionally fine councilman -- Mike Brenner -- his re-election, and Terri Olian her election in the recent mayoral race, although even Terri may not recognize this.

Steve Elrod's praises in the Patch?  Dave's been authorizing the checks to Steve and his law firm, Holland & Knight, for a long time, so Steve's praise is likely genuine. Most of us like the people who have ensured our success.

What about Mayor Rotering's praise? “Dave Limardi has served our city very well during his 18 years on the job...His professionalism and thoroughness as well as his creativity have given us a tremendous foundation and continuity.

Shall we chalk this up to Mayor Rotering's good political behavior? Sensitivity to Mr. Limardi's feelings? Legal concerns? There must be hundreds of us who opened our doors to Nancy when she running for councilman and, later, mayor, who heard her voice her opinion that Mr. Limardi was a big problem in working with the City of HP and had to go.  Shall we now think that Mayor Rotering has lived up to one of her campaign promises, or did Dave Limardi just decide he didn't want to work with her and resigned, or was it just time for him to pursue new opportunities?  Is it important to know the reality?

It only matters if you're interested in seeing Mayor Rotering live up to another one of her earliest promises -- to terminate the Master Neighborhood Storm and Sanitary Sewer Program as we know it. More than two years after becoming a councilman, and several weeks after my letter to her to request reimbursement to residents who paid (it now appears more than) $250,000 (in the aggregate), we've yet to hear Nancy Rotering officially confirm that, as Mayor, she supports the elimination of the program (as designed by Dave Limardi) and will work to effect a reimbursement to the residents who were treated so poorly and inequitably by the City of Highland Park.  As you see, David Limardi's exit is meaningful to 47+ families who paid substantial sums for that ill-conceived program, who complained to him throughout the process, and whose complaints fell on completely deaf ears.  It should be meaningful to the thousands of other residents who will be subject to the sewer program and who are at risk of having to pay $4,000-$20,000.   We still are waiting to learn if Mayor Rotering is listening and responsive. I remain hopeful...

We are judged by many measures.  David Limardi will leave the City of HP in sound fiscal shape, at least based on the recent publication of the City's budget.  This is no small feat and, while the Mayor and City Council sets the budgets, Mr. Limardi has proposed them and carried them out.  In this economy, that's good, if not great.  A well done for that net result, and a hearty pat on the back. Thank you, David Limardi, for that.

However, in my family, we will remember Dave Limardi more for times when he and his staff showed complete disregard for our complaints and concerns.  Regardless of any organizational charts that he would frequently share with commissioners in which he'd show the City Manager reporting up to the residents, David Limardi managed in a way that the residents had to report to him, and he was up on high...

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