"...he that ruleth, with diligence;" (from Romans 12:8)
What a disappointment it was to pick up the MetroWest Daily News one morning this week only to read that Framingham Town Manager Julian Suso's contract has not been renewed by the Framingham Board of Selectmen. I'm no longer a Framingham resident, but I lived in Framingham for twenty-four years. During that period of time Framingham employed several Town Managers. Some were better than others, but it's my opinion that Suso has been a particularly fine Town Manager.
The Selectmen (with the exception of Ginger Esty who voted to keep Suso) praised Mr. Suso for his high integrity and managerial skills, but cirtizized his seeming lack of vision and ability to move Framingham forward to (what I'm calling) the next level. My friend John Carroll spent over twenty years as Norwood's Town Manager, but John Carroll is one in a million. Cities and Towns seem to change Managers about as often as Mrs. Marcos of the Philippines used to change her shoes. Typically, there's a big nationwide search, then several finalists, and finally a Manager is hired with great fanfare. The Manager gets a "honeymoon" period, but once reality hits the Town is disappointed. He (or she) is good, but not perfect; hard working, but never quite achieving what the Town's movers and shakers desire. And the contract is not renewed and the search begins all over again.
I'm familiar with a similar pattern: the expectations evangelical Protestant churches members have for their pastors. Today's pastor is supposed to be an outstanding preacher, a warm "people person", a Bible scholar, a top notch business manager with strong administrative skills, a supurb counselor, a motivator, one who knows exactly what to say to a grieving family in a hospital waiting room, an expert in real estate and property matters, and actively involved in the community at large. Only about one in a million pastors have the overwhelming majority of these skills. None have all of them. But the churches still expect it. The pastors can't live up to those expectations. And the frustration and disappointment continues for pastors and congregations alike.
Yes, it's apparently the quite similar for modern Town Managers. They've got to be outstanding- no almost perfect- in every possible area. If they're anything less than that, unless they're incredibly blessed like John Carroll, that day will come when the contract is not renewed.
And the nationwide search begins, again.
I care very much about Framingham. My wife and I still work in Framingham. Were I voting in a few days, I'd vote for Dennis Giombetti and Laurie Lee. But they got this one wrong.
Back in the '80s and '90s, Boston's channel 38 featured a Sunday night staple: "Ask the Manager". The station manager would answer questions viewers wrote in. The real "show" was the banter between the manager and the announcer. It was a chance to sort of sit down in the manager's office and hear what was on his heart.
What's it REALLY like to be a Town Manager- to try to please and achieve for the community each day? Do what these viewers did: Ask the Manager!
Thought: The Framingham Selectmen should reconsider their decision. Give Julian Suso another chance. Framingham is a unique and great community, which can "think outside the box" when it wants to. Selectmen: think outside the box. You'll never find the perfect Town Manager. This is not the time to lose Mr. Suso.
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