Guy W. Farmer: Best of luck to a well-qualified city manager
May 10, 2014
Mayor Bob Crowell and the four elected supervisors made the right decision when they chose retired Marine Col. Nicholas Marano to be our new city manager. Col. Marano demonstrated admirable leadership and management skills when he commanded the largest Marine base in the country, Camp Pendleton, for three years. He can put those skills to good use here.
Marano will take a fresh look at how our city government operates and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for cost savings and management improvements. His 60-day plan calls for "an in-depth assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency with which city services are provided." I hope he'll also look into the upcoming sales-tax increase and evaluate how our tax dollars are being spent. He should pose a simple question to Mayor Bob and the Supes: When was the last time you voted against a municipal spending measure?
Among the projects and programs Marano will examine is the $35 million Downtown Project, which raises local sales taxes in order to pay for a new animal shelter and a new multi-purpose athletic center, and for beautification of "business corridors." I'm OK with the animal shelter and athletic center, but I have serious reservations about the "corridors." I'd like to see cash contributions from businesses that will benefit from this project and have another question: If the project is so good for business, why hasn't the Chamber of Commerce endorsed it? This not-ready-for-prime-time project should have been submitted to the voters, as was the so-called Nugget Project in 2012. As we know, local voters defeated that pie-in-the-sky proposal (CC1) by a 2-to-1 margin at the polls.
"I'm a blank slate," Marano told the Board in his public job interview. That means he can take a fresh look at the Downtown Project and other spending proposals without owing anything to anyone. I think he'll hit the ground running and look forward to his recommendations for a more cost/effective city government. And I hope he'll pay particular attention to "feel-good" projects we don't need and/or can't afford.
As commander of Camp Pendleton, Marano was responsible for a community slightly larger than Carson City — 60,000 people, including civilians and military personnel. He managed a work force of more than 6,000 federal employees and a $500 million annual budget. Prior to that, he supervised worldwide training and education programs for 25,000 Marines and commanded an infantry battalion in Iraq. So he'll be his own man as he takes over here next month. One additional note: Marano and his family will actually live in Carson City.
I sat in on part of the Board's public interviews with Marano and the runner-up, Midland, Texas, Assistant City Manager Jim Nichols, a former Las Vegas deputy city manager who stressed his credentials as a certified city/county manager and 15 years of experience in that field. Marano was the Board's unanimous choice to replace former City Manager Larry Werner, who resigned late last year. Werner is now the interim manager of Douglas County, where he lives.
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In his application letter, Marano told the Board he has "the right combination of integrity, leadership, innovation and enthusiasm" to manage our city efficiently and effectively. I'm convinced that he brings those qualities and wish him and his family members well as they move to Carson. Good luck to the Maranos, and Semper Fi!
Guy W. Farmer is a 52-year resident of Carson City.