Opinion: On Being a Public Employee

It’s extremely important that the people serving us at City Hall have a good view of their working environment because that makes connecting with the residents a happier task, don’t you think? I found the WeHoME union survey telling in several aspects, which I’ll cover below.

I’m just thrilled that WeHo staff are happy with their jobs. There are many great reasons to be employed by a vital public entity such as West Hollywood in these days of frozen wages, reduced benefits, lack of pensions in the general commercial job world. Unless the public employer defaults due to bankruptcy or bad management or outright thievery (all of which have happened elsewhere), job security is pretty darn good.

west hollywood city hall, disabilities advisory boardIn cities such as West Hollywood the revenue source for city business and goodies for the residents is not based entirely upon residential taxes but on the funds raised from the activities of the broader-based commercial sector. That’s especially so in our resort town, which attracts money because of its pleasure-dealing businesses and transient clients, many of whom return often. Yes, West Hollywood is one of those fortunate cities. Yet, a recent WEHOville article seems to indicate that not all is as well as it might be at City Hall. Comments within and following the article indicate a sense of distance between management and workers.

Now, that divide has always been a feature of any endeavor where someone has to decide what is to be done and others have to carry out his plans. There are some enlightened approaches to bridging the gap and to make the work goals more of a cooperative activity. The Swedish multi-national corporation that employed me during the middle 1960s found a way to engage the two principal unions representing their workers by including their representatives in planning and implementing plans. They even had seats on the company board of directors. The whole business was considered a joint venture – and it worked. I do not know how WeHo’s manager and the union function but it seems that a closer arrangement might benefit both. (PS – It’s not dread socialism, it’s a smart operating process.)

A couple of further comments: Have there been surveys to determine how city employees view the residents’ interactions with them? Has there been a survey of residents’ views of City Hall and its dealings with them? I believe the city has been pretty good about addressing these but it does no harm to test the water now and then. For instance, security concerns at City Hall now make a visit there a different experience from early days when just about every office was open to residents. That environment affects both employees and residents because there is more distance between them. Absence does not always make the heart grow fonder.

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Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
2 years ago

I look forward to the survey of residents views of City Hall and its dealings with them!

2 years ago

been a long time since i read something so condescending and tone deaf in response to what most of us civilians would consider serious problems.