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Town Manager: Worst Job?

February 4, 2011

We know a guy who keeps a list of the worst jobs in the world, or, if not the worst jobs, jobs he would never do, for whatever reason.

They’re the ones you might expect: summer highway construction in South Dakota; working the blood pit in your neighborhood slaughterhouse; working timber on the Sierra’s (hot) west side.

We’ve got another one: Town Manager.

There’s a reason why town managers last only four or five years on average.

It is a job that requires an almost total sublimation of ego. In the competitive atmosphere of America’s workplace, sublimation of ego is not high on the list of assets.

A town manager works at the direction – or whim, on occasion – of the Town Council. In Rob Clark’s case, he worked for nine council members – nine bosses – in six and a half years.

A town manager also takes direction from the Planning Commission, the Recreation Commission, the Mobility Commission or whatever other commissions the council wants to create.

He then has to take these orders – and some of them are about as zany as it gets – to the town staff and finesse the workload.

Along the way he makes no policy decisions.

“You know, to a lot of us it might sound like a tough job,” said councilman Rick Wood the other night at Clark’s next-to-last appearance before he moves on to Ojai. “But some people have an aptitude for that kind of job, and really like it.”

So now the council is looking for an interim town manager and, ultimately, a new Town Manager.

Don’t look for him or her to last more than four or five years. The job is just that tough.

– Mammoth Times Editorial Board

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