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Erik Walsh Reflects on First 100 Days as City Manager

City Manager Erik Walsh at talks between the City and the firefighters union.

Lower than 30 days after Erik Walsh was appointed metropolis supervisor of San Antonio, he did one thing that confirmed he wasn’t his predecessor.

For the primary time in at the least 30 years of bargaining periods, the town supervisor strolled into the tense negotiations between the firefighters union and the Metropolis, shook palms with all events and made it clear that he needed the negotiations to end in a good compromise.

“Whether or not it’s cops or firefighters; they’re staff first and union members second,” Walsh informed the Rivard Report on Tuesday, reflecting on his temporary opening statements forward of negotiations that day. “I needed them to listen to instantly from me what our intent was. … Typically I feel these messages are higher instantly given [from the top] slightly than by means of a negotiator or employees.”

It was a transfer that possible wouldn’t have gone over properly for former Metropolis Supervisor Sheryl Sculley, who served the town for 13 years and was blamed by each the firefighters and police unions for hindering negotiations greater than serving to – although Metropolis Council finally units the course for its negotiation group. And Walsh knew that tone all too nicely having served on Sculley’s employees for the previous 13 years and the Metropolis’s staff in 2016 that negotiated the police union’s deal.

City Manager Erik Walsh at talks between the City and the firefighters union.

Iris Dimmick / Rivard Report

Metropolis Supervisor Erik Walsh walks previous negotiators throughout talks between the Metropolis and the firefighters union.

Associated: Walsh Makes Look at Hearth Union as Metropolis Asks for Its Personal ‘Prop C’

Each groups appeared to understand the gesture however went again to disputing contractual phrases. They’re now assembly in personal mediation periods.

However for Walsh, it was a worthwhile second to start his first 100 days in workplace as he takes over for Sculley, who was celebrated nationally as one of many nation’s greatest metropolis managers, however had less-than-favorable evaluations from numerous individuals and teams across the metropolis.

“The factor I’m most impressed with at this level with Erik is the previous is just not prologue for him,” stated Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “There’s some controversies the town has been scuffling with for quite a few years and he understands that there’s a window of alternative that comes with him being new to the place and he’s embraced that by providing recent eyes and ears and a brand new voice on the desk. And up to now he’s batting a thousand.”

The Metropolis will have fun Walsh’s first 100 days Wednesday at a luncheon hosted by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce on the Henry B. Gonzalez Conference Middle. KSAT 12 Information Anchor Isis Romero will interview Walsh about his impressions of the job up to now.

The town supervisor is answerable for greater than 13,000 staff and the every day operations of a metropolis with a $2.eight billion price range and 39 departments and workplaces from Animal Care Providers to the World Heritage. It’s not for the faint of coronary heart.

Walsh assumed a stigmatized place after the firefighters union focused Sculley in November 2018 by way of poll propositions aimed toward weakening the town supervisor whereas strengthening the union’s bargaining place. Sculley introduced her retirement weeks after the election. 

Thus far, Walsh has dealt with the strain with relative grace whereas serving to to dealer the Hays Road Bridge land swap deal to heal years-old cultural and authorized wounds and taking the initiative to advocate emergency funds for the migrant useful resource middle and space nonprofits. He additionally kicked off the 2020 price range course of with document public enter and one other Council-led give attention to fairness, and made slight changes to the best way his employees, Metropolis departments, and Council members talk.

“I don’t really feel that [pressure] as typically now, however that was a really typical query,” Walsh stated of inquiries relating to how he’ll differentiate himself from Sculley. “Everyone’s obtained a unique fashion.”

Whereas Metropolis leaders laud Walsh for his professionalism, he’s recognized for bringing levity to a dialog when applicable. 

Throughout a current assembly with all Metropolis division heads and government employees, he had almost the entire room laughing with a joke about how one can correctly translate “kerfuffle” to Spanish. (He advised chingasos.)

“A superb humorousness is necessary,” Walsh stated later. “This can be a high-pressure group to work for.”

City Manager finalist Erik Walsh responds to questions during a news conference outlining his role if he is confirmed with a super majority (8 of 10 votes) by City Council.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Metropolis Supervisor finalist Erik Walsh jokes with reporters following a information convention in January 2019.

Incomes Respect Early

Walsh’s concept of his job description is fairly easy.

“My job is to make it possible for the mayor and Council accomplish what they should accomplish,” Walsh stated. “That kinda matches with my character.”

“I’m fairly measured … I may be very direct. I wish to get to the meat of the difficulty fairly shortly.”

These round him in Metropolis management positions have comparable descriptions of his type.

He’s humble too, stated Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president and CEO of the San Antonio Financial Improvement Basis. “He’s acquired that presence, mild-mannered however he additionally instructions respect in a approach I feel represents San Antonio properly.”

Walsh labored intently with SAEDF on current incentives the Metropolis gave to Toyota as a part of a package deal to draw their new, high-tech factories right here.

On the subject of in-depth financial improvement parts in San Antonio, Saucedo-Herrera stated, Walsh is in “studying mode. … He’s bringing a completely totally different, recent perspective and difficult us to consider issues in another way.”

Walsh’s hands-on and collaborative strategy has earned him the respect of Council and Metropolis employees, Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) stated. “He cuts to the chase. I actually take pleasure in that particularly as I’m making an attempt to get so many packages off the bottom.”

Edmond Ortiz for the Rivard Report

(From left) Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Metropolis Supervisor Erik Walsh

For Nirenberg, probably the most telling second of Walsh’s tenure thus far was when he acquired a telephone name in the midst of the night time final month. It was Walsh, letting the mayor know that he was going to suggest funding for the useful resource middle downtown to assist the tons of of migrants and asylum seekers touring by way of San Antonio.

“He didn’t do it as a result of he received a name from me … however as a result of he knew it was what we should always do,” Nirenberg stated. “We’ve a pacesetter of the group that’s internalized the values that we now have underscored prior to now two years, primarily that of compassion.”

And, like Sculley, Nirenberg stated, Walsh is accessible and obtainable just about 24 hours a day with a “tireless work ethic.”

Behind the Scenes

Every Thursday after Metropolis Council’s A Session, the town supervisor supplies a report on numerous accomplishments and ongoing actions within the metropolis. Since his appointment, Walsh has carried out a brand new function throughout his stories to Metropolis Council on the primary Thursday of every month.

He stopped in need of calling it an “worker of the month” program, however a spotlight reel is introduced to Council and the worker is widely known for robust work.

“Whether or not you’re a supervisor or not, my expectation is that you simply’re appearing like a pacesetter,” Walsh stated, noting the choice course of for the popularity was tremendous secret. “It’s a must to construct your group. … Most of the time we spend extra time coping with the .5 % of the workers which will have had a lapse in judgment or a disciplinary challenge and also you don’t spend as a lot time with the parents which might be doing a great job. That was a means of recognizing them on a month-to-month foundation.”

Behind the scenes, he’s instituted two extra standing conferences, along with the common Monday assembly, with the chief management group all through the week in case points develop or come up unexpectedly. He additionally has tried to streamline and strengthen communications between Metropolis employees, departments, and Metropolis Council members with an “finish of week” report that’s despatched out each Friday afternoon to Metropolis Council and replaces the barrage of random e-mail bulletins that have been beforehand distributed all through the week.

Erik Walsh meets with the City's executive leadership team.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Erik Walsh meets with the Metropolis’s government management workforce.

“He has modified the extent and nature of reporting info to Council,” Nirenberg stated. “He’s following a rule to overcommunicate and I feel that’s been extensively appreciated by the Council.”

Whereas clerical gadgets are low-hanging fruit within the honeymoon part, the issues for which Walsh’s tenure finally can be judged and remembered will matriculate within the coming months or years.

He’ll get his first check of robust choice making whereas checking out the Metropolis’s 2020 price range, the place Council possible should make robust cuts due to finances constraints.

Metropolis Council lately permitted a minimal homestead exemption for residential property taxes, faces decrease revenues from CPS Power, and not will obtain some charges from telecommunication corporations. Subsequent yr, cities throughout the state will grapple with property tax income caps imposed by the state with Senate Invoice 2. 

Throughout its price range goal-setting session, Metropolis Council recognized road upkeep, public security, reasonably priced housing, and household providers as priorities for subsequent yr. Nirenberg stated any cuts that must be made because of the homestead exemption wouldn’t come from public security or important providers.   

“There are big wants locally and there are restricted assets,” Walsh stated. “The finances needs to be balanced – there’s no two methods round it.”

“It’s going to be lots of noses within the grindstone over the course of the summer time,” he added. “Actually the main target goes to be getting the finances developed and communicated. … That’s my main entire focus for the subsequent two months.”

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