November 15, 2013

City Council of Manhattan Beach Manhattan Beach City Hall 1400 Highland Avenue Manhattan Beach, CA 90266


Is the departure of City Manager Carmany an absurdity of illogical actions by the Manhattan Beach City Council as epitomized in the novel, “Catch 22?” The senselessness begins by the City Council hiring Carmany as city manager in December 2010 under a contract that renews automatically yearly unless non-renewal is noticed12 months in advance; or, if the Council dismisses Carmany for cause.

During the next three years, the City Council, in closed session, conducts 13 performance reviews of City Manager Carmany but never finalizes his appraisal or establishes cause for dismissal that would result in no severance pay and benefits. In addition, the City Council contracts a consultant for $13,500 to advise it on finalizing Carmany’s appraisal but to no avail.

Last week, the City Council dismissed Carmany without cause. Under the contract, his severance includes a year’s salary of well-over $200,000 plus benefits plus payouts of accrued vacation and sick leave, and a portion of increased equity in his home financed in part by city residents.

It now appears that former City Manager Dolan, fired due to alleged and then admitted sexual misconduct, and now former City Manager Carmany, fired under pleasantry euphemisms shadowing his incompetence, are competing for who walks away with the highest severance jackpot of over $250,000 of our tax dollars.

We deserve a better explanation from Councilmembers Lesser, Howorth, and Powell (at the helm during most of Carmany’s tenure) than “the Council has decided to move in a new direction,” hopefully not further “Catch-22” absurdities.


Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.

2 Agrees Created

The Manhattan Beach City Council has taken action to reaffirm its focus on policymaking while ensuring it holds the city manager and staff accountable for policy implementation. Specifically, recommendations by Councilmember Tony D’Errico and Councilmember Wayne Powell, that garnered overall support by the Council, provide a needed clear differentiation between governance and management responsibilities.

Under this differentiation, the City Council’s primary responsibility is to the residents representing the ownership of Manhattan Beach as expressed through the community’s stakeholders. As a result, governance is a downward extension of ownership rather than an upward extension by the city’s administrators. In straightforward terms, the tail is no longer wagging the dog.

We, the residents, benefit because the City Council governs with an emphasis on outward vision rather than internal preoccupation; encouragement of diversity of viewpoints; strategic leadership rather than administrative detail; assurance of management accountability; and, proactivity rather than reactivity.

Further, these policy governance parameters and benefits will allow the Manhattan Beach City Council to empower the city manager and staff, thereby allowing them greater opportunities to demonstrate their competencies, creativity, and commitment toward achievement of policy-defined results.

Therefore, residents should demonstrate continued encouragement and support of these policy governance efforts to ensure city council policymaking represents the overall interests of our community, including the effective and efficient use of the resources we entrust to our elected officials.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

2 Agrees Created

Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 9 years ago

Citizen engagement involves much more than public participation. In Manhattan Beach, public participation is a one-way dialogue including public hearings at city council meetings and town hall meetings. Residents are not empowered to make constructive “effective” recommendations (i.e. those likely to obtain city council approval) based on parameters established by the council.

It takes deliberate work by local governments to develop plans for engagement, understand the purposes of engagement, and deliver opportunities for meaningful community engagement.

The highly respected International City/County Management Association (ICMA) offers webinars to explore what it takes to cultivate real citizen engagement in our community, One, scheduled for October 24, ”Citizen Engagement Beyond the Public Hearing: Creative Strategies and Best Practices,” should be viewed our council members and staff to learn:

  1. The true meaning of citizen engagement.
  2. Goals and outcomes of citizen engagement.
  3. Barriers to engagement and how to overcome them.
  4. Trends, strategies, and best practices for engagement.

Mayor David Lesser established citizen engagement one of his top priorities during his term as mayor. To this date, he has failed to implement any efforts and his term in office expires in December. Rather, under his “leadership,” opportunities for public participation, open government, and transparency have diminished. It is time for the Manhattan Beach City Council to “walk the talk” of citizen engagement or confess to its hypocrisy.

1 Agree Created

It has been over 100 days since a Daily Breeze editorial chided the Manhattan Beach City Council on problems that still remain – late meetings; postponing of agenda items; lack of transparency; and the interminable length of remarks by councilmembers.

The source of these problems also remains, i.e. rather than dual responsibility, the failure of the Council to hold itself accountable for policymaking, while holding the city manager and staff accountable for implementation.

Instead, under the guise of meeting management, the Council recently passed measures further gagging residents and silencing criticism, including reneging on allowing public comment on policy decisions made at meetings rather than only non-agenda items; and, failure to strengthen open meeting and public information access provisions as allowable under law.

As the Daily Breeze stated, “Manhattan Beach is a first-class city. It deserves first-class meeting management,” not practices that “actually work against open government by dissuading regular citizens from attending.”

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach Resident

3 Agrees Created

The following is a Letter to the Editor appearing in the November 14, 2013 issue of the Daily Breeze submitted by Nelle Overstreet, a Manhattan Beach resident in response to the DB October 31 article, “City facilities, parking structures need millions in repairs.”

Since we do live by the ocean, it is expected that Manhattan Beach structures will deteriorate over a shorter time than those inland.  Those conditions should have been taken into consideration before they reached their current state of disrepair.

The consultants reported 23 out of 43 facilities were in very poor, poor or fair condition.  The penultimate was to read that our 8-year-old police/fire department building was in need of $1.8 million in repairs over the next 10 years due to:  “The building was not built up to code; it was not inspected properly…”  This should be unacceptable to the citizens of Manhattan Beach who depend upon our City Hall denizens to see to our city’s interests.  Who OK’d this mess?  Who allowed it to be approved along the way?  The blame should not just be put on the contractor, but also on those in City Hall responsible for this fiasco.  Someone needs to step up to the plate and accept responsibility.  Citizens are owed an explanation from past and present City Councils.

Nelle Overstreet, Manhattan Beach

1 Agree Created

Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 9 years ago

Public Engagement and Budget Reform in Manhattan Beach – Embrace It!

The demise of California Redevelopment Agencies and the resulting loss of revenue for local governments should serve as the ultimate wake-up reality call to expect continued state take-aways and diminished funding from the state for core municipal services.

Consequently, the survival of local government will increasingly rely on public support for increased revenues. To meet this challenge, local governments across California are turning to public engagement in budgeting – i.e., efforts to help residents better understand public sector financing so that they are better equipped to make well-informed decisions at the ballot box.

Approaches to public engagement in local budgeting include education and outreach, advisory committees, workshops, and public forums. Numerous proven benefits throughout California include helping set priorities, identifying cost savings, maintaining civility, creating a continuing dialogue, and limiting the amount of special interest lobbying at the final city council budget meetings.

The Manhattan Beach City Council has failed to initiate public engagement in budgeting because it fears public input, access to information, and empowering residents to make effective recommendations. Public engagement requires public ownership and ownership occurs when public deliberation results in jointly prioritized or agreed upon ideas and recommendations. It should be a key element of much needed budget reforms in our city to ensure financial accountability.

Public engagement in budgeting is the new reality and the new challenge for the survival of local government. Embrace it.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

1 Agree Created

Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 9 years ago

“Manhattan Beach has been nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the South Bay’ for its beauty and desirability.” (Wikipedia) Further, we deservedly have pride in our volunteer and philanthropic organizations whose generosity and contributions illustrate our characteristics as an ideal community defined by Stephen Covey (“7 Habits of Highly Effective People”): principled-centered goodness; being of one heart with a common vision and direction; and, one mind with an approach to problem solving that is synergistic, not adversarial.

However, the flawed iridescence of our “Pearl” is inadequate resident participation in our city’s governance – a flaw not sufficiently addressed by city council candidates. In the previous election, 21.41 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Perhaps only 50-100 residents actively attend city council meetings and organize to shape our city’s mission; challenge councilmembers when their policy decisions are imperfect; or, praise their gems.

The main culprit for the flaw are 15 past years of city councils directed by a former city manager and city attorney to minimize engagement of residents in public policymaking – allowing only comments at council meetings to pacify the “gadflies,” the civic activists often denigrated by councilmembers.

To magnify the iridescence of our “Pearl” requires “public engagement” by councilmembers, i.e. delegating authority to residents through education, outreach, dialogue, and empowerment in the public policymaking arenas such as strategic planning, labor relations, budgeting, community development, and in the often stated but neglected goal of “maintaining our small beach-town character.” Then our “Pearl” will attain the metaphor of it being something truly rare and admirable.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

1 Agree Created

Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 9 years ago

Manhattan Beach woman, children held captive in home by burglar

A woman awoke in her Manhattan Beach home Thursday night to find a burglar in her bedroom, where she was sleeping with her two children, according to police.

The victim told police that a man wearing a ski mask entered her home in the 400 block of Altura Way through a rear sliding glass door. He entered the bedroom and asked her the whereabouts of her husband, money, jewelry and cell phone. He then told her to stay in the bedroom while he searched the house for valuables. She called the Manhattan Beach Police Department when she heard him exit through the front door.

No weapons were used, and no one was injured, according to police. Officers were unable to locate the suspect, who is described as 6-foot-2 with a thin build. At the time he was wearing a ski mask and knit gloves.

Anyone with information including suspicious persons or vehicles seen in the area Thursday evening should contact MBPD Det. Shawn Thompson at 310-802-5124 or Det. Sgt. Paul Ford at 310-802-5124.

Esther King Easy Reader

1 Agree Created

"How to Help Employees Unleash Their Producitivity"

As an entrepreneur, you work hard. Very hard. But make no mistake about it--you can't be the only one. To succeed in the long run, you need the active and engaged participation of your employees. This means unleashing the energy that is within each one of them. Here's how.

Catch Them Doing Something Right

Outstanding organizations share success with their employees. Management highlights constructive processes, strategies and employee ideas, then publicizes how they benefit the organization. When your employees are doing something right, let people know about it. Encourage outstanding, sustained performance by showing them how much their efforts are appreciated.

Set the Bar High

Set high standards for communication, productivity and professionalism throughout your organization. If at times these standards are not met, work closely with your employees to find ways to get back on track. Don't lower your standards. Instead, partner with your employees and take on challenges as a team. Enlist your their input to identify blocking issues, focus attention on possible solutions and strive to meet and exceed expectations.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communicate professionally, clearly and often. Employees expect management's honest assessment of their performance. When things are running smoothly, highlight what is working and communicate success throughout the organization. When problems challenge progress, consider the potential impact you can have by constructively discussing your concerns. Use communication as a tool to inspire and motivate, as well as to direct and resolve problems.

Trust Your Employees

The best managers understand that organizational success is directly tied to the success of their employees, and they work to build bridges of trust. Establish trust by creating a safe, positive working environment with open and honest two-way communication. Give your people the benefit of the doubt, then help them up if they sometimes stumble.

Help Employees Grow

Set your employees up for success, not failure. Provide them with the tools and training to meet and exceed high standards. Encourage them to identify their strengths and motivations. Show them how your organization has benefitted from their efforts, and how this in turn benefits them. Determine what drives your people, then incorporate that into their daily tasks.

Create and Maintain a Productive Environment

Create and maintain a positive, industrious and pleasant working environment. Productive, motivated people drive outstanding organizations. Ensure employees feel challenged with their jobs, but not overwhelmed. Delegate tasks and encourage people into positions of greater complexity and responsibility whenever possible so employees are always in motion and have a stake in the organization's success.

Build a Community

Make sure your employees feel like they are a part of something special and that their efforts are truly appreciated. Partner with them by involving them directly in the success of the organization. Create and cultivate a sense of camaraderie, where people look forward to coming to work because they want to be a part of your company's success story.

By unleashing the energy of your employees and getting out of the way, you can create a high-energy workforce. Once this energy is fully unleashed, your business will grow by leaps and bounds.

Source: Internnational City/County Management Association - ICMA Smart Brief - October 8, 2013.

2 Agrees Created

Get current on the posting of Council meeting minutes (and videos), stay current, and hold the City Manager fully accountable for never again allowing the unprecedented six month delinquency that recently existed (despite the hiring of an outside contractor to perform this routine duty of the City Clerk)!

2 Agrees Created