LETTER: Delgado move shows ‘poor leadership from the City Manager’s office’

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Waterland Blog nor its staff:]

As recently reported in The Waterland Blog, George Delgado has just been abruptly removed (fired?) as Chief of the Des Moines Police Department and transferred (demoted?) to a new emergency management position within the City of Des Moines. Delgado is reportedly being replaced by former Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas.

I am concerned with the high employee turnover associated with key positions within City Hall and associated City departments since the arrival in August of 2016 of Des Moines City Manager Michael Matthias, also Delgado’s boss. In my experience while some employee turnover is normal, the high rate of employee turnover within Des Moines City government is alarming. This situation points directly toward poor leadership from the City Manager’s office.

Add to this that the City’s Senior Services head, its Harbormaster, and the Director of Parks and Recreation, all long-term, competent City employees with whom I have had the pleasure of working for many years, have all chosen to retire soon. I suspect that all of these departures have some basis in the current City Manager’s management style or lack thereof.

To grow, the City needs to attract and retain good, competent personnel who can be allowed to learn and grow in a positive atmosphere established by the City’s leadership. I don’t see that happening now. And we are all the worse for it.

– Steven Goegebuer

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11 Responses to “LETTER: Delgado move shows ‘poor leadership from the City Manager’s office’”
  1. DM Resident says:

    You are correct Steven, Piasecki-gone, Finance Director-fired, Human Resource Manager-forced to retire, Delgado-fired. As you point out this list doesn’t include Patrice Thorrell, Sue Padden, and Joe Duesonberry that are all leaving in the next month or two. This doesn’t only show poor leadership of City Manager Mathias but also Pina, Pennington, and other council members for allowing this to occur. This list also doesn’t include all those in lower positions that have left due to the poor leadership and management style of the city manager. The next person to be fired should be Mathias.

    • Mysty Beal says:

      While I undoubtedly may not be privy to some inside info you might have, I’d like to note that Sue, Patrice and Joe are all in the neighborhood of 60 and over, a time when many are eyeing the exits. I don’t know of any reason to cast blame for that. Hmm, I thought the critics here were vocal supporters and endorsers of Matt in the past…

      • Pat Nardo says:

        Soon after retiring from Boeing, I was invited to a Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, by our friend, Mike Waters. At being introduced, and asked to speak, I voiced my feelings of now, “having nothing to do”. Without hesitation, Patrice Thorell spoke out with’ “We have lots for you to do!” This then was my introduction to this bubbly lady who was thoroughly dedicated to serving Des Moines. Wherever there was a civic event, a fund raiser, or organizing Waterland fairs, Patrice was there at the forefront, making certain all went well. Her enthusiasm and drive incentivized those around her, to do the very best for our city. Now we came to follow her good, logical planning and execution of every issue that came before our chamber’s responsibility.
        Just as Patrice always knew when to do, or not to do something she decided it was her time to retire and give to herself the devotion she has shared with us over the years. Not one day of serving with or for her, did I ever feel low morale, but, only eagerness to “get it done” Low Morale is one state of mind that Patrice Thorell never instilled or encouraged. This applies to the many council members I have known over the years, along with staff. As I read some other commentary, this thought enters my mind; “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” For Patrice, I wish only the happiest for retirement days, and will sorely miss her ambition.

  2. Bob Sheckler says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Staff morale is at an all time low and it’s due entirely because of the management style (or lack thereof) of Mathias and Pina.

  3. seatac says:

    and yet matt pina just got re-elected in 2017 with over 61% of the votes. when will des moines voters wake up?

    • DM Resident says:

      My guess is that had there been a viable candidate running against Pina that he would not have been re-elected. Certainly in this past election there was no other choice when you look at who his opponent was.

  4. Landmarque Resident says:

    Pina is a poor leader, the verdict is still out on Matthias for me. However, Piasecki definitely wasn’t an asset to the city. I don’t agree with the demotion of Chief Delgado, especially since the City Council never gave him a sufficient budget to hire the additional officers he has needed for years. City staff positions should not be a position one stays in for 20-30 years. As the demographics in Des Moines change and times change the faces at city hall should as well. Otherwise, it turns into a perpetual way of doing things that don’t mesh with the times of now. Des Moines has fallen behind other South King cities in terms of growth and development due to the past 20 years of stagnant leadership and never changing staff with new and innovative ideas.

  5. Pinebrook Resident says:

    I don’t understand why turnover is such a bad thing? The city is definitely not in a great place under past leadership. Turnover with new leadership is commonplace in any new administration. I for one, welcome change. 60 and overs or close to need to move aside and let a new generation come in. This goes not only for Des Moines, but country and society as a whole. Boomers have run this country into the ground and younger generations are going to have to pay for your mistakes.

  6. Pat Nardo says:

    Having known, worked with, and for Chief George Delgado, almost from day one of his tour of duty, I can assure anyone who may doubt it that this great civil servant was NOT “fired” or even pressured to leave office. Chief Delgado has tirelessly provided the leadership needed to reduce crime, improve relationships within our community, and even reach out to make the life of his charges, our police population, safer and better equipped to handle the difficult tasks assigned them. A good manager, Michael Matthias, also a friend, has always been ready to do things that many mangers before him hesitated to do. It is within his highly qualified management skills, and responsibility, to place the right personnel into appropriate positions. Moving Chief Delgado was one which, I believe has two benefits, mainly the relief that must be experienced by our chief after four years of hard, diligent service to the community, to look for the relief of such stress. Then it is my understanding, that we will have a new benefit from chief Delgado’s change of civic responsibility, that of emergency preparation and management. Here again, we have a manifestation of the high level of management skills and judgement emanating from our city manager, Michael Matthias. It is certain, to this reader, that we now have the best of both positions with regards to competency; city manager, Matthias, and our new emergency preparedness leader, George Delgado. Lastly, it is so easy to find fault with those who diligently try to do what is best or our city, ignoring the good that has been accomplished. To those who would denigrate the performance or competence of our city leadership; I would ask, “How better would you, sir, do all these things?

  7. BirchCreek says:

    Could it be that past Des Moines City leadership was poor and now that we have good leadership that the less than stellar employees are leaving?
    Or maybe that the past city leadership had a good-ole-boys club that has been broken up?
    I am not privy to these things, but just my thoughts as an interested bystander and citizen of Des Moines.

  8. Ms.J. says:

    I’m more inclined to think that most of the turn over is strategy and safeguards to hide past, present and future moves these guys have down so well when it comes to lining their pockets. Think about it !?

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