Now Fillmore really lives up to its name, OR, Institutional knowledge is dead?

April 17, 2009

In the respect that “Fill more” could be taken as a sharp directive, local leaders (or what’s left of them) would do best to start seeking replacements for the now-four city workers to abandon their posts in 2009, an exodus like Ventura County hasn’t seen for a long time.

When Barbara Smith, Fillmore’s finance director and assistant city manager, stated this week her decision to retire, she hinted at her unhappiness with the current makeup of the city council and mayor, which may come as no surprise to anyone working in the government center of the tiny enclave: three other top-ranking officials left for basically the same reasons.

Some of Smith’s qualms involved concern over the increasing number of closed-door meetings between council members, and the overall unpleasant environment city hall has become.

It becomes a real shame in these incidences because, like newspapers, institutional knowledge gained while holding a post is key to advancing at a job. Smith had worked for the city for 23 years; but like a veteran newsman who spent decades on the beat reporting and editing, once they leave, no amount of seasoned past experience in a new employee can replace the expertise and know-how gained in a particular institution by the person who just left. It’s an even worse shame when the person leaves in a disgruntled state on not the best of terms.

There was a comment made on a Web site that provided some coverage on the news:

“The sad part is that the exodus of experienced city leaders on this scale will only hurt the community and be a setback. They will be replaced by inexperienced people who have noone to train them.”

And in 2009, with this economy, is when the community needs its city leaders the most.


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