Last week the Arlington County Board fired, in the usual corporate way, its new County Manager Michael Brown. Brown was hired after a seven-month candidate search, had been on the job only for four months, and left with a $110,000 severance payment. Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette latter explained that Brown turned out not to be a "good fit" for the County.
More squeaking, creaking, pushing, and disputing would be good for Arlington. Arlington has an arts center misnamed after a sphere, the most perfect of shapes, and local news source TBD actually has a news series informing the world about imperfections (gasp!) uncovered in Arlington. How about a little ugliness here? Ugliness makes the heart grow faster!
Michael Brown didn't offer the County much ugliness as County Manager. At Brown's meeting with the RAFOM civic association, he showed patience, professionalism, and already a good deal of knowledge about Arlington. He seemed to have some critical perspective on what the county does. He did not simply roll over with platitudes in response to some tough questions about new LED streetlights. He recognized, as everyone should, that time are going to be tougher in Arlington with the economic downturn. He seemed to be a County Manager who brought to Arlington some new perspectives. He seemed very wiling to listen, learn, think, and find good solutions. He did not seem to be a County Manager who sought to create difficulties simply because the same one-chorus harmony gets boring.
Forget about being one big happy family. Arlington needs a strident, outspoken, belligerent, and contentious County Manager.