Beside the Point
Today, Feb. 14 – Valentine's Day – it'll be a regular Lonely Hearts Club in the City Council chambers. Many a city staffer – not to mention a council member or two (or quorum, for that matter) – will be anesthetizing their heartache in a glass of whatever's close when it's all over. Because, you see, she's gone.
Today, Feb. 14, is Toby Futrell's last meeting as city manager.
With Marc Ott slated to take the third floor starting Feb. 18, it looks to be an unceremonious arrival for the incoming CM – and the outgoing one. Sure, we'll probably say a few nice words here and there and blush at recognition of the intense adulation we felt the first time we laid eyes on Futrell back in 2002. We were rebounding from a relationship that left us feeling used (Jesus Garza), and she was just what we needed. We made a good six years of it, didn't we? Well mainly, right? It's just that people change over time, and we recognized we couldn't abide the same things over and over and expect different results. After much soul-searching, we found someone new.
It's not you, Toby; it's us.
So instead of arguing over the albums or visitation rights to the dog, BTP hopes the transition from Futrell to Ott occurs seamlessly and assuredly. Back when we were at daggers with each other, there was breathless talk about not wanting Futrell around to take part in (and thus taint) the transition process. Now, from some of those same corners, come whispers that Ott has received a lukewarm reception and not all the transition help he needs from staff. BTP certainly hopes this isn't the case and that staff extend every courtesy to our new city manager, as deserved.
Let's not make this any harder than it is already.
BTP also hopes that once ensconced, Ott isn't overwhelmed by an onslaught of unfinished business from the previous regime. He has a full plate already, what with public safety negotiations, a budget around the corner, and simply getting a feel for the office – but our six-year relationship was a long time, long enough to accumulate a lot of dirty laundry. For his sake and ours, let's strive for a fresh start.
Like a heart-shaped box of Valentine's Day candy, there's no way of knowing what we're in for until we take a bite: the nougaty goodness of a new administration dawning, or a bitter love-hangover, as nasty as the melted cherry chocolate plucked last from the candy sampler?
They say the best thing to do after a breakup is stay busy, so City Council obliges this week. Up first, Item 2 codifies council's already voiced abstention from the South Texas Project. Item 3 codifies the May council election, along with a charter amendment giving greater independence to the city auditor, if passed. Other charter revisions on the horizon include movement on single-member districts, with SMD advocate Mike Martinez calling for a Feb. 28 presentation on recommendations and possible maps (Item 53), and setting a public hearing. With council's deadline to set the election March 6, it's now or never for single-member districts. (Also, with its signatures turned in last Friday, look for group Stop Domain Subsidies to join the charter election, too.) On the development end, council preps requests for proposals on redeveloping the Green Water Treatment Plant Downtown (Item 54).
And lastly, there are matching executive session and action items (66 & 75), "related to the implementation of the current City Manager's compensation and benefits resolution" – a likely retirement-credit byproduct of Futrell leaving this month, instead of at the end of May, as originally announced.
Maybe we spoke too soon about her unceremonious departure.