Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager
Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.
City Manager, Auburn Hills, MI
This week we announced that Jeramey Peters is the 2013 city employee of the year. Officer Peters is a police officer and has been with the city since 2004. He and other nominees were honored at an employee lunch at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 18th.
Auburn Hills has 165 full-time staff. The employee of the year award began in 2012 to recognize outstanding contributions by city employees. We started this because we have an incredible team at Auburn Hills, but each year there is an employee that is a standout, does something extra and we should recognize excellence. We congratulate Jeramey Peters on this recognition and thank him for his efforts to best serve Auburn Hills residents and businesses in his role as a police officer.
Our process is simple; each department is allowed to nominate one employee bases on the five dimensions of a great work place according to The Great Work Place model. Those five dimensions are:
After the Departments put forth their best, yours truly narrows down the list to the list of finalist. In addition to Peters, other Auburn Hills employees that were finalist and recognized at the luncheon were; Shawn Keenan, Water Resources Coordinator in Community Development; Jane Parpart, Human Resources Generalist from the City Manager’s Office; Gary Chapman, firefighter currently serving as an interim Fire Lieutenant; and Rob Cox, Crew Leader, Sewer, Department of Public Works.
In 2012 Mikey Gorak from the Recreation Department was the first and inaugural recipient.
Congratulations to all who were considered and thank you for making this process so challenging.
Mayor Kevin McDaniel
No, not talking about the Olympic torch that actually made its first trip into space a week or so ago, up to the space station and back.
One of the things that is really neat in our society is the peaceful transitions of government. We are spoiled in the United States of America because this is not the case around the world, even today.
At last night’s City Council meeting the ceremonial torch was passed as long term Council Member and Mayor, Jim McDonald stepped down after years of faithful service along with Council Member Anne Doyle. The two newly elected officials, VeRonica Mitchell and John Burmeister, took their oaths of office for the first time while Henry Knight and Bob Kittle were sworn into office again.
Next was the choosing of the new Mayor. In Auburn Hills, the Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem are chosen amongst the City Council themselves for a two year term. Kevin McDaniel was selected to lead the City Council as Mayor and Bob Kittle was selected to be the Mayor Pro-Tem. I am always thankful for the way elected officials handle themselves professional during these transitions. So many times elected officials get painted with that broad brush which normally casts them in a negative way.
During our nation’s history, transitions have not always been peaceful or easy. Today is actually the 150 year anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Now there was a time when the country was divided. I remember walking the field up the hill where Pickets Charge was, a mile straight into oncoming fire, such sacred ground that was consecrated by American blood, and a President who understood the responsibility that was on his shoulders to keep the nation together.
So, thank you Mayor McDonald and Council Member Doyle for your years of service to the community and congratulations to Mr. Knight, Mr. Kittle, Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Burmeister for stepping up to keep our community moving forward.
Heard a great sermon this weekend, it was so well put my 3rd daughter even commented on how it made sense and was able to bring it up 3 more times during the day.
It was all about a mother telling her son as he left the home each day, “Remember who you are” she would tell him. That little sentence helped ground that boy through his college and professional sports career. It was on an interview with ESPN and the reporter asked the question of why no one ever had any dirt, or scandal, any inappropriate deeds on the part of this athlete. His response was that his mom always told him, “Remember who you are”. To him that meant to remember who you are as a human being and all it took to be who you are. Including all the work your parents put into making you who you are. Also that your siblings, friends, teachers and coaches all help you become what you are.
So everyday he would remember that all he did, in public or private, was representing what all had done to help him, and he did not want to diminish their efforts.
That started a good conversation with my daughter, but who are you? And are you living in a way that honors those who help make you who you are?
So as you take on the world every day and sleigh those dragons or build a better community, remember who you are.
What we get to do for a living here in Auburn Hills can be truly fun. The responses from people of all walks of life who want to invest, build and become part of our community are always interesting. Almost all of them, the first time, have a draw dropping expression when they first get exposed to our Radical Hospitality that has become a staple of the Auburn Hills Advantage.
Some of our peers inquire how we get to a place where employees are allowed to make decisions, and transform the “customers” experience. It must not be as easy as we say it is or others would be all over it.
First the elected officials have to be on board and understand that time is a commodity, the investors to the developers, and as it affects our organization’s bottom line.
Then you have to create the environment where employees are allowed the “soft” area to stretch their boundaries, think of the end goal and have some liberty to get us there. Next I would say looking at our organization as a platform, not an end. We are a platform that helps facilitate interactions between humans.
In today’s world you can put an office or shop anywhere and ship or transport goods and information to anywhere, so we better continue to innovate and be the place where people want to continue to grow. We have the hard infrastructure in place, streets, water sewer, power etc… so the rest is the soft area, how you deal with people.
Trust and relationships, maybe it’s never been any different.
By Tom Tanghe, Assistant City Manager and Guest Blogger
I arrived here in Auburn Hills as its Assistant City Manager in May of 2001. Hard to believe more than twelve years have passed. When I got here, the excitement of Downtown Auburn Hills was building. Of course back then, it was called the “Village Center”. Already well under construction, homes and other buildings had been torn down to make way for street realignment. And planters, street lights, and brick pavers we everywhere to be found. Although that was a monumental task, some might say that was the easy part. Millions of dollars were spent to get all of the infrastructure in place. And the critics asked, “for what”? Fast forward . . . Upon the completion of the majority of the demolition work and new streetscape installation, some really tough decisions would have to be made. How will we build our Downtown? How will we get developers to invest? Will there be an interest now that the infrastructure is in place? With an eager and impatient staff that was used to getting things done yesterday, this was a tough situation knowing that it wouldn’t happen quickly. I mean, come on . . . Rome was built in a day, right? Nor would our downtown. By 2003, plans started coming in for housing, retail and office. And by 2004, new buildings were opening. But by 2006, the economy began to slow; and I don’t need to tell you what happened in 2008. So many of us optimistic staff members, elected officials, and citizens, stood by hoping for a recovery that might bring the next wave of interest. The naysayers said “I told you so”. But for the optimists and naysayers alike, here’s a little information worth sharing.
In January, 2014, a new 97 unit apartment building with 5,800 square feet of retail in the core of our downtown will be up and operating, along with three other projects that flank its exterior on three sides. To the east is The DEN, a historic log cabin with addition that total 1,564 square feet and will be a unique community facility for students and the general public to visit for reading, individual study, or group study. It is free to use, there is plenty of free and convenient parking, and it has free wireless internet. With five rooms comfortably furnished and two fireplaces, it is sure to become a favorite of our college community. Behind the apartments to the south and just a couple hundred feet from The DEN is a new public parking structure. With a capacity of 233 cars, this well lit structure is convenient to all of downtown, free to use, and will serve the area and its growing needs well into the future. And then there is the University Center to the west. This 7,200 square foot building will be home to the Avondale Virtual Academy on the second floor and has two classrooms on the main floor for either 36 or 58 students. Fully equipped with the latest technology, these two main floor rooms will be a unique learning environment for classes held by Oakland Community College, Oakland University and Baker College.
And more is yet to come. To the east we continue to expand our downtown with literally millions of dollars of new housing approved and starting in 2014. A new connector boulevard will expand downtown and additional land that has been assembled and cleared will make way for more opportunities. A few infill parcels in the core downtown area remain for development. One of those is currently in the design phase with construction expected to begin in the spring. Another is being presented this week. All include residential components that will bring new life along with opportunities for retail, restaurant, service or offices uses. You can expect to see a lot happening in Downtown Auburn Hills again next year following the many buildings that are about to open in January. It takes time to create a great downtown. And it happens one building at a time. I mean, come on . . . Downtown Auburn Hills wasn’t built in a day!
Red Green is reported to have said “There are three categories of people when it comes to putting their lives on the line. People who wouldn’t, people who would, and people who do.” How appropriate for today, the 11th day of the 11th month and particular the eleventh hour, also known as Veterans Day.
Today is a day to remember the people who do.
Think about what you were doing when you were 18, chasing dreams, experimenting, finding out what you want to be and how quick to get there.
There are those who put off their dreams. Most for a short time, some for 20+ years. Some don’t come back. People join our armed services for varied reasons. Mine is not to question why, the fact that they do, says a lot about the potential of these people.
So, even if it is just for a second, maybe a minute, a moment of time, stop the busy world and say “thank you” for those who do, did and will defend this republic and our way of life.
I was asked the other day how to climb the ladder of success by someone who has not been on this earth as long as I have (another way to say they thought I was old). This is a very interesting topic and was challenging to answer.
First, I think you need to define what you define as success. Not as easy as you might think, but people come from all aspects of life and have very different definition of what success is or what that may look like. In that same line, I would be careful not to try to live someone else’s success story, live your own.
Therefore, I think everyone has their own ladder to climb. There are times when you will climb three rungs with ease and other times where you might have to step down a rung. Another issue I have observed and would suggest is don’t push people away who want to help steady your ladder. The “I can do this on my own” mentality has some value but also some drawbacks. A steady ladder is much easier to climb than one that is wobbly.
Another suggestion is control your own accent and decent on your ladder rather than worrying about how quick someone else may be climbing their ladder. Most of the time you will not know how long the other person has been climbing or how many times they had to go back and start again. Control your own path with what you can control, as Jim Collins wrote, “The team with the steadfast 20 mile march mentality is more likely to succeed.”
Last, I would recommend enjoy the climb, both up and down. There was a line in the play Annie that I saw a long time ago that went something like, “You don’t have to be nice to people on the way up the ladder, if you never plan on coming down.” Don’t be that person for we all end up six feet under where the base of the ladder rest.
There I said it up front, so it is out of the way. But have you watched a Piston’s game this year. They are actually exciting to watch.
I know it can be a long season and it has just started and they are about 500, BUT did you watch the games. Oh, and I’m not going for moral victories here, taking one of the best teams of last season to OT and losing is still not winning, but it was a basketball game. The other loss came to the only undefeated team left, and we were in that one as well (very cold from 3 point land in that one).
For those who may have left the ranch, plantation, or jumped of the bandwagon you may want to check out a game. We have a very formidable front line up, Mr. Big Shot is back and some young talent to boot. I am going stop short of saying they are a lock for the finals, but I know I am going to enjoy some NBA basketball here in Auburn Hills.
See ya at the Palace of Auburn Hills real soon.
Boy do we have short memories. Or does our memory of history start the day we were born…
I had the opportunity to meet with some people who hold positions of leadership from across the country recently. I think there were about 75 folks gathered to discuss “Big Ideas” and innovative ways to govern in these challenging times. It was very mentally challenging and stimulating, again, if you believe in always checking your premises, how do you know what you know.
There were some very interesting local strategies in dealing with local issues, and other communities have some creative financing going on to spur growth. But…
I just couldn’t get over the fact the there was a string of speakers who were bestowing the end of the world as we know it (hey, that’s kind of catchy, maybe I’ll write a song). One speaker said we had never seen our country so divided in the history of the USA. Really?
It’s kind of ironic that on today’s date in 1862, a tortured relationship ended when President Abraham Lincoln removed General George B. McClellan from command of the Army of the Potomac. McClellan had ably built the army in the early stages of the war but was a sluggish and paranoid field commander who seemed unable to muster the courage to aggressively engage Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
What does this has to do with the credibility of the speaker and causing me to discount everything they said? “…seen our country so divided in the history of the USA.” How about a civil war, I would think that would be considered a fractured and divided relationship.
By the way, after his removal, McClellan battled with Lincoln once more, it was for the presidency in 1864. McClellan won the Democratic nomination but was easily defeated by his old boss.
Another doom and gloomer pronounced we are not doing enough to halt Global Warming. Some cities will not be around, will be under water if we don’t tax carbon now. This person then used some quotes from former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore and labeled him as a “visionary.” I seem to remember 2007 was a big year for Mr. Gore when in his speech, called, “Earth Has A Fever,” Mr. Gore referred to a prediction by U.S. climate scientist Wieslaw Maslowski that the Arctic’s summer ice could “completely disappear” by 2013 due to global warming caused by carbon emissions. Fast forward… I seem to recall that last year or earlier satellite photos of the Arctic taken by NASA show a 60 percent increase in the polar ice sheet. Now it’s nothing against predictions being off, nobody knows the future, but we should remember the past.
Sorry, I am not a doom and gloomer, I am more of a shape your own destiny type of guy, so some of these folks didn’t know how to handle reality checks. It reminds me of the quote from Abraham Lincoln “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
We speak a lot about our employees being actively engaged in our organization. We don’t need anyone that is just punching the time clock and going through the motions. Organizations that are lean have lost employee numbers and that also makes any weakness more visible.
But a community is much more than its actively engaged employees. The people who make an effort outside their daily life to represent their community often get the credit they deserve. In our form of governance the republic is as only as good as the people who take time out of their lives to represent others.
Tomorrow is Election Day, and in our town we have 8 people who have stepped up to the plate and are running for our local city council. It takes more than just some time to run for an elected position. A person must decide that if they want to be an elected official, they will be criticized by others that may not have all the information. They have to understand that sometimes they won’t have all the information they would like prior to making a decision. They will find out that sometimes people will attempt to use them as a way to gain or leverage something.
But, they will also get that sense of satisfaction that in even the smallest way, they were a part of something so much larger than themselves.
Yogi Berra once said “You can observe a lot just by watching.”
Here is a thank you, prior to the election, to say thank you to those who chose to do more than watch, but to be actively engaged in the process of governance.