Before he proffered idiotic, racial remarks, former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling was widely considered the worst owner in the history of sports. He didn’t pay his players. He wasn’t a winner. He was cheap.
Now, we don’t mean to compare the Scottsdale City Council to Donald Sterling. After all, the city is one of the great municipal franchises in America. And right now it has a point guard in City Manager Jim Thompson widely liked and respected by all factions on the council, and the public at large.
That’s because, unlike his predecessors, Thompson isn’t afraid to make decisions. He views his job as getting to policy destinations, not about their journey. Thompson seems to relish in the complicated while still understanding the big picture. And while everyone has an ego, Thompson leaves his at the door, rightfully understanding who his bosses are. The seven people on City Council and those that elect them.
All of this means Thompson has become a hot commodity in City Manager world. After stints in Casa Grande and Bullhead City, assuming the same chair in Scottsdale has put him to the bigger leagues. Unlike others who get to the show Thompson can hit curveballs, and others are noticing. With a salary and compensation package that is middling to lower middling compared to his peers, Thompson is a prime trade or free agent target for any city.
That’s why Scottsdale needs to step up during this budget season and recognize the work ethic and result that Thompson has provided the city. In other words, don’t be like Donald Sterling. The city became a laughingstock for its city manager turnover for numerous, previous years. Now it has stability. And smarts.
Unlike sports there are really not “long-term” agreements in municipal government. But the Scottsdale City Council should come as close as it can, rewarding a consummate and courageous public servant so he stays on the team. This is especially important as the city contemplates the most significant moment in its recent past or near future, a critical bond package headed to the ballot in November, 2019. Thompson, along with the City Council and public, have had a lot to do with crafting a smart, sensible package. Let’s keep the team in place, even rewarding those that have put the city on the verge of a big win.