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Job review reveals city's manager's concerns

By Sonny Long
Nov. 17, 2011 at 5:17 a.m.
Updated Nov. 18, 2011 at 5:18 a.m.


MORE STAFF SHUFFLE

Ray Miller, deputy director of development services for the City of Victoria, resigned earlier this month. The job description, possibly as coordinator of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, is being worked on and will likely be posted after Thanksgiving, said O.C. Garza, Victoria public information officer.

ONLINE

The working relationship between Bruce Ure and Charmelle Garrett deteriorated rapidly in Ure's less than nine months as assistant city manager.

When Ure was named Victoria assistant city manager in March, he said it was an honor to be part of the management team.

At the time, City Manager Garrett said Ure was an "excellent leader."

On Nov. 14, Ure resigned, citing management and leadership differences for his departure, including a six-month performance evaluation by Garrett that Ure said was 95 percent negative.

What happened between March 1 and Nov. 14?

EVALUATION

Garrett's evaluation of Ure, obtained by the Victoria Advocate via a Texas Open Records request, provides some insight.

In nine categories, with a total of 22 evaluation areas rated "needs improvement," "meets expectations" and "exceeds requirements," Ure received 14 of the lowest ratings and only three of the highest.

Under the category of Planning and Organization, Garrett was critical of Ure for inconsistency "which causes rushed decisions or lack of organization which negatively impacts the office of city management."

She gave several examples, including the hiring of an event planner for Bootfest, but Ure continued to micro-manage instead of provide direction, according to the evaluation.

"This prevented Bruce from working on other projects with departments," Garrett wrote.

Ure was said to "need improvement" in three areas of leadership, according to the evaluation.

"All department heads look to Bruce as their leader regardless of their reporting status. Has not worked to learn/understand the departments and their functions," Garrett wrote.

The evaluation also cited an instance in which Ure was seen nodding off in a city council meeting and texting in another, and when called upon to speak while texting was not prepared, which was noticed by council members and staff.

Garrett also was critical in the area of Ure's decision-making.

She wrote, "Bruce fails to make well-informed decisions and does not use good judgment at decision making. He has a tendency to make decisions without thorough analysis and does not weigh political consequences of his decisions."

Garrett used the Riverside stadium concessions contract as an example and wrote that Ure did not "consistently communicate with me about decisions he plans to make. He is inconsistent with keeping me informed when he has council contact."

"Bruce appears to be overly-confident in his decision making ... and will answer quickly without checking facts.

"Bruce has not successfully transitioned from being a department head (police chief) to assistant city manager when it comes to making decisions that affect the entire city. Bruce does not include city council potential reactions in decision-making processes and tends to forget that city council members should be considered 'bosses.' Forgot to include council members in the Bootfest VIP and Boots N Bling invitation."

In her overall summary, Garrett wrote that Ure represents the city of Victoria in a professional manner.

"He is well thought of in the community and is a very likeable person," she wrote.

The city manager also said Ure was willing to accept new assignments with the Bootfest being a prime example.

"The event was overall well received, and Bruce was a key to the event's success."

However, her comments on his major weak points and how they can be strengthened, included, "the city manager should not have to ask for information, the city manager cannot be your 'memory,' must keep city manager informed of all issues and interactions with council, and due to decision making and lack of communication, there will need to be a rebuilding of trust with city manager."

URE'S RESPONSE

Before resigning Nov. 14, Ure, who was hired as Victoria police chief in 2007, submitted a plan to improve his job performance to Garrett on Nov. 10.

Ure's improvement plan included better note taking and paying attention to the smallest of details, according to the document also obtained by the Advocate through an Open Records request.

He also would "communicate council interactions and conversations promptly to the city manager."

Ure's plan also included becoming more interactive and provide input at staff meetings, solicit advice and input from the city manager regarding decisions, and inform and seek guidance from the city manager on a consistent basis, not just on "critical" decisions.

He also planned to become more familiar with city departments and personnel.

Ure hoped to accomplish his 10-point improvement plan "within the next two months."

Instead, four days later, Ure resigned, telling Garrett her "authoritarian leadership style" limited his choices.

"I don't think there is much more to say," Ure said by telephone Thursday evening.

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