Scene in Passing: Works needs to lead, follow or get out of the hot kitchen

Deputy City Manager Marena Works works, but whether she works as Carson City’s next permanent city manager is an open question.

Immediately after City Manager Larry Werner announced he would resign effective Dec. 19, I asked Works whether she would apply for the position. She expressed surprise at the question, then replied she wasn’t ready to say. Asked again after an intervening weekend, she said she still wasn’t ready to comment.

A trip to her office a week or so later and a subtle change to the question prompted another near-stonewall. Asked if she wanted the job, she wouldn’t say. But that time she did comment she wanted to await a Board of Supervisors signal on that group’s direction. Sorry, madam deputy, but that’s cart-before-horse talk when the news media comes calling.

She who hesitates is lost; that might be the applicable maxim. Then again, perhaps she who hesitates is coy. Or, to be fair, maybe she who hesitates is being deferential to policymakers. But it also is almost certainly true that she who hesitates is up to her ears in political calculations. Why? In this case, because she is on the bubble and in a tight spot if she wants the job, given the fact one supervisor didn’t gush at elevating her to deputy.

Also true is this fact: should Works cross the line from deputy to enter the city manager sweepstakes, she is hoping to change roles entirely. The deputy and all city staffers work for the city manager. The city manager is the only person who works for the board, theoretically. So it’s a political move to seek the post. In public or behind the scenes.

If Works doesn’t want it, or doesn’t want it yet, she needs to say so. The board can then name her the interim city manager while it searches for Werner’s replacement. If she does want it, she needs to say so and the board can choose someone else as interim so there is no appearance of greased skids for an insider.

If she doesn’t volunteer her choice before or by Thursday, when the board considers selection process options and choosing an interim, a point-blank question from a board member might succeed where my trio didn’t.

Works once told me she had heard I didn’t like covering government. I told her she was misinformed. I also told her I prefer covering business and have said I never again would cover state government day in and day out. But I love covering government, in part because at the same time I’m covering politics. Government always is politics, no matter what anyone thinks, and it’s the greatest spectator sport on earth.

Politics, no different from nature, abhors a vacuum. The issue is always the same: lead, follow or get out of the way.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment