July 2023

TCMA Management Messenger

President Message: Transforming Lives through Service
Management Transitions
New Members
New Member Applications
Meet Your Colleagues
Picking Up the Pieces When the Coffee is Still Steaming
The Full Service TML Risk Pool is Born
2023 TCMA Annual Conference Highlights
Intercollegiate Bowl
Open Call for Conference Speakers
TCMA Educational Events
Memos on Meetings

President Message: Transforming Lives through Service and Having an Impact that Matters

Opal Mauldin-JonesThere are over 1,000 towns, villages, and cities in the State of Texas and most have a town, village, or city administrator or manager implementing the strategic vision established by the elected leadership. We have the privilege to serve the residents of our state with kindness, humility, integrity, passion, professionalism, and excellence.  

The past three years have presented opportunities that have not historically been experienced by our profession. The COVID pandemic, social justice tragedies, and the lack of civility in society illuminated the need to have professional public administrators with integrity and a commitment to serve ALL with kindness, professionalism, and in a spirit of excellence. This profession requires a heart fueled by passion for service to others and a commitment to equality, equity, and inclusiveness.  

Whether officially or unofficially, we all ascribe to the ideals of the Athenian Oath to transmit our city greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us. Every day we are transforming and impacting the lives of our residents, colleagues, and staff through our service.  

As we prepare to celebrate our centennial in 2026, I would like to thank you for your commitment to the ethical tenets and principles of our Code of Ethics. Thank you for your membership and service to our profession and association. Take advantage of the numerous programs and services, connect, and establish meaningful relationships that will serve you, your community, and impact our profession for years to come.   

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you, and I look forward to a year of Transforming, Serving, and Having a Lasting Positive Impact That Matters for Another 100 Years.

Opal Mauldin-Jones, ICMA CM
TCMA President
City Manager, City of Lancaster, Texas

Management transitions

Cory Aspinwall is no longer the city manager of the City of Henrietta. Todd Choate and Cathy Mills are serving as interim city managers.

Mike Barrow will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of Weimar.

Steve Bowlin will retire as city manager of the City of Electra, effective August 31.

Melissa Boyle is no longer the city manager of the City of Grandview. Katherine Reading is the interim city manager.

Kathy Cherry will no longer serve as the city administrator of the City of Palm Valley. 

Manuel De La Rosa will no longer serve as the city manager of the City of San Benito. Gavino Sotelo is the interim city manager.

Kyle Jung is no longer the city manager of the City of Manvel.

Joseph Resendez will no longer serve as the city administrator of the City of Bartlett. He will begin serving as the assistant city manager of the City of Lockhart, effective July 17.

James Wright is the new city manager of the City of Waelder.

New Members

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes the following new members approved by the Executive Committee on June 23, 2023.

Full:  James Attaway, City Manager, Quitman; Wayne Berger, City Manager, Cuero; Kathy Cherry, City Administrator/City Secretary, Palm Valley; David Gaines, City Manager, Addison, and Steven Viera, Assistant City Manager, Corpus Christi

Associate: Jessica Clarke, Assistant to the City Manager, Georgetown; and Lauren Wilson, Administrative Services Director, Carrollton

Cooperating: Olympia Cuellar, Budget & Management Analyst II, San Antonio; Wilson Kakembo, Capital Improvement Projects Manager, Addison; and Lance Rosenfield, Senior Project Manager, Garza EMC

Student: Brian Chaddick, University of North Texas

New Member Applications

The current TCMA Board policy requires that names of new member applicants be published each month in the Management Messenger. Any written objection during the subsequent 30-day period will be reviewed by the Membership Committee. If no objections are received during this time, the names will be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval. Written objections can be mailed to TCMA, Attention: Membership Committee, 1821 Rutherford Lane, Suite 400, Austin, TX 78754. Applications received in the month of June:

Full: Timothy Crow, City Manager, Gonzales; Alonzo Echavarria-Garza, City Manager, Hearne 

Cooperating: Greg Shaw, Fulshear

Meet Your Colleagues

The TCMA Management Messenger welcomes William Linn to his new position as the city manager for the City of Taft. William’s appointment began on May 2, 2023. He started in the management profession for the City of Valley Mills in November of 2015, and he previously served as city manager for the City of Kenedy. 

 William received his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University’s Southeast Campus in 2006 and received his MBA and master’s degree in organizational leadership from Southern New Hampshire University in 2012 and 2011 respectively. William is also a Certified Public Manager, a Certified Fraud Examiner, and holds certificates in human resource management and supply chain procurement.

 William and his wife, Edna, have been married for 25 years and have five children, Stephen, Rachael, Shannon, Victoria, and Sydney. His hobbies include hunting, business development, reading, any church related activity, and spending time with his family.

Picking up the pieces when the coffee is still steaming

In June of 2022, I was helping our newly elected mayor with a PowerPoint for one of our local bank’s business breakfast, his first public speaking event after the election. He had just filled his coffee and the steam from the warm beverage swirled above the cup when one of our front desk persons came to my office and said, “There is a very serious man with a badge out front asking for the mayor.”  Two minutes later, I looked out the window, and with his coffee still steaming in my office, watched our newly-elected mayor handcuffed and loaded into the back of an unmarked SUV. By lunch, I was swarmed with emails and calls from reporters across the metroplex and soon, the country. The business breakfast organizer was panicking, asking if I could fill in and how to get a new speaker in such short notice.  

Crisis Management

  • Identify the crisis – Determining if you have a problem or a crisis is like the analogy of a flat tire. If you discover your vehicle has a flat tire at a time you do not need your car it is a problem; however, if your tire blows out in traffic you have a crisis. In the scenario above, identifying and defining the crisis was easy. Our charter designates the mayor to preside over city council meetings and represent the city in intergovernmental relationships and all other things mayors typically have the responsibility. He was the speaker at a community event and was just elected.  
  • Define the Urgency – Urgency is not about effect as much as it is about time. How quickly the crisis affects your agency through an operational, compliance, or financial aspect as well as how quickly stakeholders expect something. We defined this as critically urgent. The need of our community, the news, and our employees for accurate information was immediate. It did not take long for the word to get out and we were expected to have answers and a plan.  
  • Create the communication plan – A communication plan defines who should receive specific information, when that information should be delivered, and what communication channels should be used to deliver the information. An effective communication plan anticipates what information needs to be communicated to specific audience segments. The plan should also address who has the authority to communicate confidential or sensitive information and how information should be disseminated -- email, websites, printed report, and/or presentations at meetings that may be virtual or given in person. Considering our size, all communications had to go through the city manager’s office. We created a statement that we used in general.  We activated all our resources including social media, website, and a concise press release to media outlets.  
  • Identify Stakeholders– Stakeholders are those affected by an event.   It is important to determine the relationship to the crisis. 
    • Primary stakeholders are the people or groups that stand to be directly affected.
    • Secondary stakeholders are people or groups that are indirectly affected.
    • Key stakeholders, who might belong to either or neither of the first two groups, are those who can have a positive or negative effect on an effort, or who are important within or to an organization, agency, or institution engaged in an effort.  

Identifying our stakeholders again was not difficult. The community would be directly affected, as would our staff, the local business breakfast organizer, and our city council. We also knew that other stakeholders such as the media outlets would expect answers. 

  • Maintain Transparency – Providing transparent, timely information helps establish trust and it’s equally important to communicate the steps you are taking to minimize the spread of misinformation. We definitely wanted to get ahead of the misinformation. Many people began speculating that the arrest had something to do with impropriety in his official capacity, but we wanted to be clear it did not. We also wanted to ensure that people knew we had a plan and that we would have continuity in our operations and business.    

Below is the press release: 

This morning, June 21, 2022, law enforcement officers executed a warrant against the Mayor while he was present at City Hall. The warrant is unrelated to his role with the Pilot Point City Council or recent mayoral race. This pending matter is being handled by non-city agencies and the City has no further information or comment” was rehearsed over and over again as we and news agencies waited for more information.   Then the question came what will the city do? Our answer came in the form of another simple statement, “the City’s government is designed to be flexible and resilient. The City will follow applicable state law and the City’s charter to fill any vacancies.  In the absence of the Mayor, the City’s charter provides that the Mayor Pro Tem presides over meetings. The Mayor Pro Tem is an elected member of the council and appointed by his fellow council members to serve in that capacity.  Beyond that, as a home-rule municipality, the city manager oversees personnel and operations.”

Here is where all the resiliency and crisis management training kicked in. We wanted to focus on our people and give them answers and be transparent, but we didn’t have the answers either. We gave our bland statement and asked them to follow up with the Dallas Police Department, the lead investigative agency. We focused on our mission and pushed forward. Our team rallied around each other; I spoke at the business breakfast and had several department heads in the audience to lean on. Our message revolved around all the great things that we are doing around town and ensured the businesses represented that they were in good hands. Our mayor pro tem stepped up and led the council during a time of uncertainty.  

Our team was successful because we utilized effective crisis management tools and had built resiliency. Our resiliency was based on our belief that no matter what had happened we could overcome it. We knew our roles and responsibilities and what we had to do, some because our charter laid it out and others because we had trust in each other. We were able to improvise and adjust to the situations as they happened. We were there for each other and created a safe place where we could talk, vent, and listen to each other. We were able to debrief and reflect.  

When the mayor was arrested, I did not have answers and did not have a strategy to deal with it. I reached out to others in my network and asked them for ideas and none in my network had ever dealt with anything similar. By telling this story, I hope it helps others in the rare case they may have to deal with a similar situation.   

(Article submitted by Britt Lusk, City Manager, Pilot Point)

The “Full Service” TML Risk Pool is Born

This article is one of several to come, written by each of the seven current city managers who serve on the 18-Member TML Risk Pool Board of Trustees. 

TML Risk Pool

Last month, Opal wrote about the creation of the TML Risk Pool in 1974. I agree with her that one of my roles on the Pool’s Board of Trustees is to communicate our “why.” Our Pool was the first municipal pool in the United States, and it remains the largest. 1974 was a long time ago, and as the city managers on the Board today we feel compelled to share with you, our fellow managers, why the Pool is still the best choice for cities.

By 1981, the Pool had been providing workers’ compensation coverage to Texas cities for seven years. In 1982, cities saw other coverages becoming scarce and expensive, so TML created a liability fund that year and a property fund the following year. (In the mid-1980s, the United States insurance market essentially crashed. According to Time Magazine, that was “a time of frantic efforts to obtain insurance that, at best, was available only in limited amounts with high retentions at exorbitant rates.”)

Today, the Pool provides liability coverage to 2,759 local governments and property coverage to 2,427 local governments. Cities make up over 1,000 of those. That includes protecting almost $50 billion in local government property.

Liability offerings include general liability, automobile liability, law-enforcement liability, public officials' errors and omissions liability, airport liability, and cyber liability. With those coverages, a member gets claims management specialists who know and understand immunities and tort caps. Regarding employment issues, Pool staff understands the complexities of government employment protections, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints, and we offer the "Call Before You Fire" hotline staffed by Pool attorneys to help avoid problems from the start.

Regarding law enforcement, the Pool has a dedicated law enforcement training specialist to help police departments stay out of the headlines. We also partner with the Texas Police Chiefs Association and support their Vincible training program (www.vincible.org). 

Property offerings include coverage for buildings, contents, mobile equipment, fine arts, and boiler and machinery. A host of loss prevention and mitigation programs, including post-disaster stabilization and turnkey project management, help members get property fixed right, fast, and within (often below) budget. Reach out to your member services manager or loss prevention representative for more information. 

The Pool now offers coverage for cyber incidents. Each member has the option to purchase affordable coverage, along with resources to stop cyber-attacks in their tracks. If you in your city haven’t checked our cyber coverage out, I urge you to do so. It’s unbelievably affordable, and the resources we offer at the Pool for helping you make good cyber security decisions are some of the best you’ll find anywhere.  

Thank you for your confidence in me and the other city managers on the Pool’s Board. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or Scott Houston, the Pool’s intergovernmental relations manager (512-791-4158 or scott.houston@tmlirp.org). 

(Article submitted by Randy Criswell, City Manager, Wolfforth)

2023 TCMA Annual Conference Highlights

Ron Cox v4 TCMARon Cox
Distinguished Member

Lifetime v4 TCMA

Rickey Childers, TCMA Past President and Life Member; 
Kay Godbey, TCMA Senior Advisor; Roy Rodriquez, City Manager, McAllen; and 
Randy Wright, City Manager, Portland
Lifetime Achievement Award

DiPiazza v4 TCMA

Vince DiPiazza, 
City Manager, Uvalde
City Administrator of the Year Award

Walker v4 TCMA

Hugh Walker, 
Deputy City Manager, Bryan
Excellence in Ethics and Integrity Award

Proce Vera v4 TCMA

Jim Proce, Assistant City Manager, Lewisville and 
Joe Vera, Assistant City Manager, McAllen
Mentoring in Memory of Gary Gwyn Award

Biggs v4 TCMACaitlan Biggs
Assistant of the Year in Memory of Valerie Bradley Award

Mansfield v4 TCMACity of Mansfield 
City Council of the Year Award

L Yanez CPM ScholarLety Yanez, Assistant City Manager, Wylie
2023 Barney L. Knight Texas CPM Scholars

Ridley Award 2023Nathan Ebers and Lisa Morgan, University of North Texas 
Clarence E. Ridley Scholarship 

2023 TCMA Intercollegiate Bowl

UNT 2023University of North Texas took home the trophy,
TAM 203Texas A&M finished in second place with only 21 points shy of the winners.

2024 Annual Conference Call for Speakers

The 2024 TCMA Annual Conference is scheduled for June 20-23 at the South Padre Island Convention Center. 

The Professional Development Committee would like your input on speakers and educational session topics. Please take a few minutes to provide feedback. If you want to submit multiple suggestions, a link will be provided at the end of the survey.

For additional comments or questions, please contact Professional Development Chair James Earp at James.earp@huttotx.gov  or Vice Chair Sara Robinson at srobinson@deerparktx.org.

To submit your suggestions no later than July 31, click TCMA Speaker Call.

tcma educational EVENTS

TCMA Podcast  
Perspectives on City Management  
Listen to episodes here.

Tex-ICMA Coaching Webinars 
(Pre-registration is required)

High Performance Local Government: Creating a Culture of Higher Organizational Performance
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, September 7

Career Pathways to Move Up the Local Government Ladder
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, October 19
What to Do When Everything is Falling Apart: How to Reset
12:30-2:00 p.m., Thursday, November 16

Memos on Meetings

The Board met on June 8 in conjunction with the TCMA Annual Conference. Minutes are available here. The next Board meeting  is September 22 in Austin.

The 100 Year Celebration Task Force met on June 28. 

The Professional Development Committee will meet August 30-September 1, in South Padre Island.

All information is current as of the 25th of the month prior to publication.

In-Transition Services
To see if you qualify for TCMA 
In-transition Services, please 
click here. For a list of current city management job openings in Texas click here.

Career Compass
Career Compass is a monthly column addressing career issues for local governmental professional staff. To view current and past articles, please click here.

Additional Resources
Visit icma.org for additional training opportunities, resources, and advancement of professional local government around the globe. 

If  you have some interesting news that you would like to see included in the Management Messenger, please email messenger@tml.org.