Scene In Passing: To move mountains, use personnel well

Moving mountains is much different from moving mole hills mistaken for mountains.

Knowing the difference is key. A top management skill set involves handling personnel, the human capital who is as precious as capital in currency.

Here’s a pertinent quote on this from Oliver Wendell Holmes, physician, writer and father of a Supreme Court justice: “The greatest tragedy in America is not the destruction of natural resources, though this tragedy is great. The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities.”

Sound management helps in both government and the private sector, optimal management and personnel use are crucial. Last week’s column used baseball as backdrop to make the point.

The Miami Marlins had fired the manager who began this season, replacing him with Dan Jennings, a front office man who never coached or managed professionally. It was done even though Brett Butler, who led the Reno Aces in 2012 to the top of the Triple A minor league heap, is now a coach with the Marlins. Jennings is mired in a learning curve. The team is still battling haplessly for last place in the National League east.

Where can this metaphor take us? For Carson City, a few observations follow.

Nick Marano on Tuesday marks a year as city manager here. He had experience running a large military base/community as a Marine Corps colonel, certainly not the minor leagues but a different game of sorts. Unlike Jennings, though, he had field work in the trenches. His learning curve here is now mostly behind him, despite that, there’s no picnic on the horizon.

He’s taking flak over a budget gap on the animal shelter. He knows life in local government and small city politics is more political than he imagined, yet keeps taking his cuts at goals given him by the Board of Supervisors’ majority. He’s also quietly working to change the culture of city government staff, prodding staffers to up their game where possible.

Next let’s look at citizens who give time and knowledge to the city gratis, exemplified here by the Planning Commission. Chairman George Wendell, a pastor, runs meetings with patience and aplomb; Paul Esswein, vice chairman, is a Lyon County planner who lives here and knows his field well. Esswein brought clarity to a water issue involving the Capitol Mall North project last week. Right talent, right place and time.

In making a motion Wednesday allowing the mall to exceed a flexible water usage threshold set by city growth management standards, Esswein noted no single business going into the mall is likely to exceed that standard individually. In the same meeting, commissioners doubled the water threshold after a city staff report cited sufficient supply for growth.

Finally, Kaushal Chokshi is starting a business unit of his Scaale Group of companies here. Scaale Carson City will go in the mall just mentioned when space will be available. The unit will provide talent to other companies in Scaale Group’s worldwide efforts to supply such private firms with sales help, capital and human capital. This tech-savvy way of providing personnel is 21st century stuff.

Dare we call it a just-in-time personnel supply chain?

Whatever it’s called, it’s more than a mole hill for this mountainous region.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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