When Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin introduced Mark Scott as city manager a little more than three years ago, she pronounced him a "rock star."
Scott, a Fresno native returning home after a long career in government, said that this would be his "last stop."
As often happens in politics, proclamations and predictions made at news conferences don't pan out.
Scott announced Wednesday morning that he will become Burbank's city manager next month, and the record shows that while he was a capable administrator, he didn't do for Fresno what Mick Jagger did for the Rolling Stones.
Scott's biggest contribution was that he examined the municipal ledgers and exposed the fact that the city had propped up its general fund with $36 million in internal loans through the years.
This fact might not have alarmed the citizenry — or even some Council members — but it was a big concern for holders of the city's bond debt, especially in light of Fresno's shaky municipal finances. Scott will exit with the outstanding internal loan balance cut to $14 million.
But the big tasks on which a city manager's legacy's is forged either stalled or failed during Scott's tenure.
The Fulton Mall remains an underperforming asset. The question of how to implement the controversial 2035 General Plan, which seeks to promote infill development, is unanswered. Outsourcing residential trash collection, one of Swearengin's key initiatives, was politically stymied by a coalition of Council members and unions, then rejected by voters.
The mayor immediately named assistant city manager Bruce Rudd as Scott's successor. A 37-year city employee who started out in the blue-collar ranks, Rudd will never be described as a rock star. But he has deep and wide knowledge of city operations and, most importantly, he is a veteran of City Hall political battles.
We expect Rudd to spend a lot more time focusing on solving problems and getting things fixed than selling the public or the City Council on his vision for Fresno.
After years of service cuts for residents and employee layoffs at City Hall, Rudd just might be the right man at the right time for our city.
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