Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Casual Conversation with Herb Polson

To be totally transparent, Herb and I have been good friends for well over 20 years, we worked very closely together while were both on staff at the City and I was a campaign worker and contributor to Herbs' City Council campaign in 2005.

I caught up with Herb a week or so ago at one of our favorite lunch spots, Coney Island on 9th Street.

For most of Herb's career with the City, both as a staff member and as an elected official, Herb dealt with the political side of the administration. Given that, Herb has an uncanny insight into the workings of the elected officials and the Administration. Herb served on the City staff during the City Manager era and the strong mayor period.

We had a lot of catching up to do but soon the conversation turned to politics and I asked the question a lot of people are asking: "are you going to run for Mayor?"

Our conversation had been pretty light hearted up to that point but Herb turned very serious, "I get that question frequently when I am out in public," Herb said. "Well?", I asked. "I am watching and listening carefully", was Herb's reply.

He went on, "The City has a lot of problems. There are serious issues that the next Mayor will have to deal with. The Pier/LENS, The Rays, the budget to name a few. Principle among them is the age of the senior administration, and the need to make some serious staffing changes. The old way of looking at things is just not working anymore."

"What are your major concerns?" I asked. Herb replied, "even though the Mayor is poling well, there is a serious lack of leadership on almost all issues." I don't get the sense that the staff or City Council has a clear idea of where they are going." Lack of leadership is clearly evident in the budget process, and the number of people leaving the administration is a serious problem, especially recent hires that have quickly left."

Our conversation moved out to the parking lot as the Coney Island lunch crowd grew, and it became considerably more detailed, but I'll leave that for Herb to make public later.

As the conversation drew to a close, Herb again waxed serious and said "I don't think we feel good about ourselves. The City seems to have lost its direction." The world is changing, our demographic is changing and it just doesn't seem like the City leadership is on board."

I could not help myself I had to try one more time. "So are you going to run for Mayor? I asked.

Without any hesitation but with a twinkle in his eye Herb replied, "I'll just wait a while and watch and listen to what the people have to say."

A quick handshake and we were off to our various destinations.

As I drove way I could not help but think, in all my experience with Herb, he has always been about what the people have to say.

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