With transition, Lang turns to community for ‘Big Ideas’
By JACK SPILLANE, Standard-Times staff writer
NEW BEDFORD — Scott W. Lang says he wrote up a list of people to serve on his transition team and then crumpled up the paper and threw it in the wastebasket.
Mr. Lang announced yesterday that instead of naming a traditional transition team and telling the community what it intends to do, he’s going to hold a series of three “Big Idea” forums and ask the community what it wants him to concentrate on.
Mr. Lang, however, acknowledged that he came up with the five-pronged approach at a meeting in his office with some well-known city figures who have been key advisers throughout his campaign. They include attorneys David Waxler and Susan Forgue Weiner, Assistant District Attorney Raymond Veary, former Mayor Rosemary Tierney, former Judge John Tierney (Mayor Tierney’s husband) and former Judge John Xifaras (the husband of Mr. Lang’s law partner, political activist Margaret “Mardee” Xifaras.)
Peter Kavanaugh, another longtime activist and Lang campaign adviser who was not at the brainstorming session, will head up the logistics of the transition operation, he said.
Mr. Lang, however, said he threw away his original transition team list because he wants to deliver on his promise to open up City Hall, and not simply replace “one group with another group.”
The forums, which would be held on Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14, would take place in the North, West and South Ends of the city. They would be part of “five-funneled” process that culminates in Mr. Lang’s administration taking office on Jan. 2.
Last night, the New Bedford School Committee approved the use of Roosevelt Middle School for the first meeting on Nov. 30, from 6 to 9 p.m.; and Carney Academy on Dec. 7, from 6 to 9 p.m. The third meeting will be held at Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech on Dec. 14, also from 6 to 9 p.m.
“I want to get people engaged in how we start solving these problems,” the mayor-elect said.
The mayor-elect outlined the other four funnels that will provide input into his transition decisions.
They are: his own reaching out to the various groups in the city; the suggestions and input of his campaign workers; his interviews with various city department heads; and the resumes people send him who are interested in volunteering on a city board or applying for a job.
He does not intend to make any hires until that process is complete.
Mr. Lang during the campaign had contended that outgoing Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz Jr. ran City Hall with a top-down management style; his administration will be run from the neighborhoods-up, he has pledged.
The mayor-elect also said he has already received more than 300 e-mails after he announced last week on WBSM-AM radio that anyone with a suggestion for his administration should mail him at www.scottlangformayor.com
“Obviously not every idea will be adapted, but every idea has merit and will be scrutinized,” he said.
The new mayor is not without his own thoughts on how he wants to form his administration.
He said that his preference is to replace Police Chief Carl K. Moniz with an interim chief on his first day in office.
Mr. Lang criticized Chief Moniz during the campaign for not having the confidence of his department because of Mayor Kalisz’s alleged micro-managing.
“At the Police Department, the chain of command is really important,” he said. “You have to have the absolute trust and confidence of the people you’re overseeing.”
Chief Moniz could not be reached for comment.
The mayor-elect said that with the exception of Schools Superintendent Michael E. Longo, he wants to re-evaluate all city department heads.
He has carved out an exception for the schools chief because parents expect continuity in that position in the middle of the year, he said.
“I’ve known Mike Longo for years. Without day-to-day interference, he may have the confidence he can go out and set some goals, and see some improvements,” he said.
Although he’s not looking to cost the taxpayers any money by buying out contracts, he’s determined to analyze the management of every department, including the School Department, Mr. Lang said.
“Everything is under review,” he said.
“I take last Tuesday as a sign from voters that they want change,” he said.
Mr. Lang also said that, unlike Mayor Kalisz, his style will be to delegate to department heads the authority to manage their own departments. And he also expects the department to delegate to their own staffs the authority to make decision for their own responsibilities, he said.
“Some department heads, I know their style is not compatible with mine, and I’m not going to hesitate to replace them,” he said.