city manager - When the reformers designed the...

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-1 When the reformers designed the council-manager form of local government, they might have had men like Fred Meuer in mind. The tough-nosed professional has imbedded himself deep within the city government of Monterey, California, becoming a fixture in the workings of the Peninsula's public sector. With an admitted impatience for political considerations and a wide range of executive functions, Meuer's greatest obstacle, it seems, is the taxpayer and a growing intolerance with the necessary expropriations to fund capital investment and infrastructure. Before joining city government, Meurer served in the Army Corps of Engineers for over twenty years, eventually working his way up to Director of Housing and Public Works for Fort Ord. He joined the service after earning master's degree in engineering and resource planning from Stanford University. The West Point grad served overseas assignments in Germany, Vietnam and Korea. He retired from the military in 1986, holding the rank of Colonel, and went to work for the city government the very next day. He was first hired as Special Projects Manager, and then quickly appointed as Public Works Director (both positions are part of the City Manager's office). In July of 1991 he was appointed as City Manager, and has served in the position ever since. Meurer admits he that his 16-year stint in the same office in the same city is somewhat unusual-- significantly longer than the average tenure for someone in his position. He joined the city government in 1986, first as Special Projects Manager and then Public Works Director. He attributes his success to a reluctance to participate in political maneuvering. "My function is about 95% professional and only about 5% political," he says. "You've got to have a political awareness to get the professional aspects of the job done well, but one of the main functions is to serve as a buffer between the city council and the political elements." He says his ability to operate without direct voter mandate is a key part of what allows him to be effective. "I'm only directly accountable to five council members, but the elected official is accountable to 30,000 voters," he said. "That's what allows me to have a different approach, and I think a higher degree of freedom." Surely his military background, in which he operated in a traditional performance-based hierarchical structure, influenced his outlook and preference for professionalism over politics. Although
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This essay was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course POLS 103 taught by Professor Christensen during the Spring '08 term at San Jose State University .

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city manager - When the reformers designed the...

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