When a new City Manager takes the reins in Bellaire we might expect that he or she would bring a former executive assistant along, someone already in tune with their style of management.
But replacing the heads of almost every City department and their assistants? In the past four years under the new City Manager we have lost numerous long time employees at the highest levels and their wealth of knowledge about our City, as well:
- Jane Dembski, Director of Parks and Recreation
- Linda Symank, Finance Director
- John McDonald, Development Services Director
- Lee Cabello, Inspector, Development Services
- Joe Keene, Public Works Director
- Brant Gary, Public Works Director who replaced Mr. Keene; Mr. Gary only stayed for about 2 years
- Shawn Cox, Assistant City Manager and Special Projects Manager
- Darryl Anderson, Chief of the Bellaire Fire Department
- Yolanda Howze, Human Resources Director
- Shadae White, Human Resources Generalist
- Michael Leal, Assistant Bellaire Police Chief
- Diane White, Assistant City Manager – leaving after 16 years
Among the 23 jobs currently listed on the City’s website you’ll also find postings for Assistant Director of Public Works, Assistant Director of Development Services, Recreation Supervisors – and now for Assistant City Manager.
This begs the question: how can a City run efficiently with so many changes in top-level staff? Most City departments are now led by staff with no sense of the history of Bellaire or why residents enjoy living here, and who have to come up to speed on projects that began months or even years before they came to work for the City. The hiring and training of new employees is costly, more so when so many large and sometimes contentious projects are in work.
But more importantly, why has there been such high turnover? Yes, some employees leave due to relocation, but most leave for other jobs. Why? High turnover reflects poorly on any employer and eventually word gets out. We used to retain employees for 20 years or more. What has changed in the culture of our City’s workplace, and how will this affect Bellaire’s future?