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The 'Can’t Remember' Manager

Can he remember Snowtober?

The “Can’t Remember” Manager

Suppose we had a crisis and the Village manager was nowhere to be found.  He also says .

“Couldn't remember!”

Oh, and this is the same village manager who just got a in a somewhat stealthy manner this summer.

I am sure you are saying to yourself as you read this that, “It could never happen here.”

Or if it did the Council would be outraged.

But you would be wrong on both counts. Only one member of the council complained.  

Why?

The defense: Of course, we had plans in place.  Plans for what? There was no plan. The fire department ordered some residents to park on the street because of a downed power line and then the police came along and gave them tickets!   One hand didn’t know what the other was doing. 

Another hot wire was left dangling on a dark street with no light on it while all those sports floodlights on wheels sat at Vets field.

(Let me make it clear I am not criticizing the workers just the lack of management.)

There was no plan.  

What there was (and I can say this because I am one of these kinds of guys) was a bunch of older, mainly overweight white guys sitting around a table with their tablets and ballpoint pens – like a flashback to the 50s.  No laptops, no iPads, no blacks, no women in sight (although I wouldn't be surprised if one brought them coffee at some point).

And yes, NO Ken Gabbert for the most part.

Is this anyway to run a village? I think not.

This same group gets decent marks for Irene, but they get Fs for Snowtober. It was an unusual event but we need to be better prepared to cope with whatever comes along and use modern communication methods to help people stay safe.

But there were few web site updates. No emails. Few Twitter tweets. (I actually didn't see any.)

We need to do better. We should do better.

But is Ken Gabbert or the present Council the way to get us back on track?

We need people who understand Twitter and Facebook and Email. We need people who know the difference between a paper tablet and a tablet. 

We don't need people who refuse to criticize a village manager just because they just mistakenly gave him a big raise.

We need an emergency response plan that includes communicating to the public. (Weren't you a little afraid when the power was out every time the big sirens screamed. A short e-communication could have spread the word to everyone with a smart phone.)

We don't need more excuses. We don't need more "I don't remembers."

We were lucky. No one died. No one was seriously hurt.

We dodged a bullet.

Next time we better have a shield in place and not shoot ourselves in the foot.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve Holder November 05, 2011 at 03:41 PM
I totally agree with you Dan. Sure good managers delegate but good managers, like good leaders, are out there with the troops when the going gets tough. It was a tough few days for a lot of residents this past week and for the amount we pay these guys and the amount we pay in taxes to the town, I for one expect more. No more excuses people. When I do a poor job for a customer they don't use me anymore.. they fire me. That's the real world that most of us live in each day. Time to get real Ridgewood. Time to come out of the bubble.
Dominick Nizza November 05, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Perhaps, tying a string around your finger will help so you don't forget. Works for three year olds.
thwnd November 08, 2011 at 01:16 PM
i'm new to ridgewood so this is a serious question. is gabbert really the mayor of upper saddle river at the same time that he's the village manager of ridgewood?
JV November 08, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Yes, he is, which he represented as not a problem. He also insists that people refer to him as "Dr," not "Mr." He also accepted a massive retroactive pay raise granted to him by a council that claimed it was justified in part because the size of the municipal budget has grown, suggesting perhaps that entering bigger numbers onto a software spreadsheet somehow becomes more difficult. This is a beautiful community with exeptional schools, which are the reason so many of us live here, but it is also a town that sometimes appears to exist on a different plane of reality.
Alan Seiden November 08, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Mr. Johnson, Regarding your assertion that the current Council does not "understand Twitter and Facebook and Email," did you hear the Council members' remarks at last week's Council meeting? Please watch the video or listen to the tape, and see if you still think they don't understand. They focused intensely on the use, or lack thereof, of email during the crisis--that informative messages went to organization leaders but not to the general public. Fact is, the Village does not have an email list for residents, so creating such a list, without impinging on privacy, is the first step. As for Twitter, contrary to the article's claim of "few Twitter tweets. (I actually didn't see any.)," the Village sent over 20 tweets during the storm. See the Village's Twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/#!/ridgewoodinfo
Dan Johnson November 08, 2011 at 07:44 PM
20+ tweets in 2 days and 11 of them were individual street closings. Never Tweeted link to an updatable summary. It was a terrible use of Twitter. Their web site was down. They had never given people a chance to op in to receive email. And the Reverse 911 worked poorly. And a missing Village Manager.
maureen November 08, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Gabbert is the Abbott to Riche's Costello.."where were you ? " I don't know " "he doesn't know " "I don't know "...
Alan Seiden November 10, 2011 at 06:40 PM
To follow up on the questions raised here: At last night's Council meeting (Nov. 9, 2011), the Village Manager gave a full accounting of where he was during the storm--basically, working in Village Hall, accessible, whether in or out of particular meetings. It was also explained that during a crisis, the Office of Emergency Management takes charge. The VM temporarily cedes control to the OEM. The VM is involved but not in command till the crisis is over, when he manages the cleanup.
Dan Johnson November 10, 2011 at 06:51 PM
If he had just said that last week. But now a week later it seems very contrived. Why did it take him a week to come up with this? I don't buy it. And why didn't some member of the council get up there last week and say this. I am sure they were away of this 'longstanding policy.' That's a lot to forget and a lot to remember a week later. It is amazing that last week he couldn't even remember if he were in Village Hall and never though to say and BTW, it is the OEM that runs things in and emergency. And speaking of the OEM, who runs meetings. Who is the final decider? Seems like the VM should be chairing these meetings instead of being someone else in the building.
Alan Seiden November 10, 2011 at 08:46 PM
During a crisis, such as a natural disaster, meetings are run by OEM, coordinating not only regular Village departments but also police, fire dept, etc.
Dan Johnson November 10, 2011 at 09:27 PM
And who is the person in charge of the OPEM and why wouldn't the Village Manager be part of this crisis team? And why couldn't he remember any of this last week?
maureen January 03, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Come on ! We all know the Ridgewood Village Manager was in Saddle River fulfilling his duties as their mayor. One chef, too many hats.

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