When Burgess Hanson was voted in as City Manager I had serious reservations. My main concern was that he was trained by former City Manager Larry Deetjen who I found to be nasty, selfish, overdevelopment friendly, and resident unfriendly. I saw Larry running the city commission single handedly, making policy, (I suspect with back room deals and meetings) not just carrying it out, and if anyone crossed him, they likely suffered grave consequences accompanied by a verbal whiplashing. This was not a legacy I was eager to see continued by his “disciple”. I was very wary of how Burgess might act. Unlike Larry, Burgess had always been polite and helpful whenever I asked him something, but still, he WAS trained by Larry.
It took me a while to become a Burgess fan. I attend almost all city meetings. I watched for signs of Larry seeping out of Burgess’ pores, but I saw no sign of the Larry nastiness, no sign of being a control freak, no sign of disrespect for residents especially women or those of other ethnicity or race from himself.I did see the city being well run, I saw a commitment to fiscal responsibility, I saw a city manager who is responsive to the commissioners, residents and city workers, and someone who puts in very long, long hours. I understand he is demanding. Nothing wrong with that; demanding that a city worker do their job, and do it well is something I admire. Toward that end, Burgess, knowing that the city has been weak in the area of human resources, hired Mike Milanowski, who has a law degree and a wealth of experience. Burgess is following what I believe is a solid game plan for the city. Hire the best people you can, pay them what they are worth and let them do their jobs.
Our top managers and supervisors, in the private sector, would be earning far more than our people for a corporation the size of Deerfield Beach. Being penny wise and pound foolish is not the way to save money. Having well paid managers who make sure their supervisors are well trained will improve morale and productivity, saving far more than their salaries in the long run. We have a ways to go before all supervisors know that supervision by intimidation is not the way to manage, but Burgess and Mike are making sure that training is taking place.Hiring a city manager from an outside pool of candidates subjects the city to the “Dance of the Lemons” with available candidates being ones who were fired from other cities. Witness our last two managers if you doubt. We are fortunate to have Burgess who comes from within our city and is personally involved with Deerfield Beach.
I am still watching for signs of Larryism, but the only signs of it I see are from our Mayor and her allies, not our City Manager.