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Paul Osborne's




4 City Managers,

3 Interim City Managers In

Last Decade 

    The chair in the Decatur City Manager’s office has supported seven different men in the past decade (including the next city manager) and that’s a lot of changes in that chair (assuming it’s the same chair) in a relatively short amount of time.
        In fact, the 7 number is even more amazing when considering that City Manager Leslie T. Allen served 16 years in that position before his retirement! 
        During Monday night’s city council meeting, Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus was appointed Interim City Manager as Tim Gleason moves on to his city manager’s position in Bloomington, Illinois, on July 23 as Tyus assumes his interim city manager’s role  the previous day.
    There is some feeling in the community that the council should forget about searching for a new, permanent city manager and give Tyus the job -- permanently.  Tyus indicated at Monday night’s meeting that he had not made a decision whether to apply for the position on a permanent basis.
 • AS I MENTIONED in this column a few weeks ago, I’ve known all of the city managers from the time Decatur went to the council/manager form of government in 1959 except the very first one -- John Dever. (I was in high school when the council/ manager form of government was adopted.)
    As a publisher, I’ve known, met with and written about all the other city managers since Dever, including (in order) W. Robert Semple, Leslie T. Allen, Jim Bacon, Jim Williams, Steve Garman, John A. Smith (interim), Ryan McCrady, Gregg Zientara (interim), Tim Gleason and now, Billy Tyus (interim).
    It’s been a decade since I left the mayor’s office in 2008. I was mayor when Steve Garman was the city manager and I left office not too long after we appointed  one of the assistant managers, John A. Smith, to serve as “acting” or “interim” city manager as we started searching for a new permanent city manager, which turned out to be Ryan McCrady, who was hired after I had left office. 
    When McCrady left the city manager’s position to become head of the Economic Development Corpora-tion (EDC), Gregg Zientara, who was the city’s director of financial management, was named interim city manager until he was replaced by Tim Gleason.
 • WHAT’S the average length of time for a city manager to serve a community?
    Well, there are variations of the average tenure of city managers, but more than a few university studies on the subject, put 7 years as about the average. 
    Most studies indicate that city managers do not stay in one city very long because of the “hazards” of the occupation and the reality that the only way to advance a career is to seek a city manager’s position in another city where more opportunities exist.
    A few management analysts believe if a person remains a city manager in the same community for more than 2 or 3 years, his or her career is stagnating.
    That seems like a very short time to be city manager unless there are personal or professional reasons to move on.

 •  I’VE KNOWN Billy Tyus since he was a reporter for the Decatur Herald & Review, and enjoyed working with him during the years I served as mayor and he was one of the assistant city managers.
    He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard an unkind word spoken about him -- or ever heard him speak an unkind word to anybody.
    He is probably the first person to enjoy all positive comments on our Facebook Page when the story about the council considering him for the interim position was posted, with many expressing the feeling he should also be made permanent city manager. 
    Obviously, since he has worked under three city managers, and has been involved in a lot of what has come out of that office over the years, he is an obvious choice for the interim city manager’s position.
• THE KIND OF JOB any person does as city manager of Decatur, and whether he (or she) is perceived as a “good city manager” has a lot to do with the economy and how he works with the mayor and members of the council.
    The best city manager in the world cannot operate successfully when either the mayor, or enough city council members, won’t allow him to do his job.
    I’ve heard a few in council positions over the decades say they didn’t care what the city manager recommended, they would vote against it because they didn’t like him.
    That’s selfish and hurts the community.
    What Billy Tyus, or any other person who may become a candidate for the permanent city manager’s position, must ponder, is this question: “Is this a mayor and city council who understand their roles and my job, and are willing to work with me even when we disagree, to do what’s best for the community?”
    While the mayor and city council look at the person they want to be their next city manager, you can bet the prospective city manager will also be looking at them to see if he really wants the position in Decatur.
Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY.

​​​Previous Post

Do We Need A 
City Manager?

    Observing some of the “wisdom” on display on our Facebook page and those of other local news media, in reaction to Decatur City Manager Tim Gleason accepting the city manager position in Bloomington, I thought it would be helpful to give a refresher course on the role of a city manager in our form of government.
    It was obvious, by many of the comments, those commenting didn’t have a clue about the city manager’s job -- but that’s not anything new on public Facebook pages where facts aren’t often a part of the conversation,
    So, I decided to answer questions people have about the city manager’s position in the council/manager form of government, which is what Decatur has, and has had for over a half century.
    The following information comes from the International City/County Management Association which I feel gives a clear picture of our system of city government in Decatur, and the responsibilities of the mayor, council members and city manager.
    Read carefully.  It should help you avoid posting untrue statements on Facebook (if you post on Facebook) -- plus, I may give a pop quiz later.

    • What Is The Council-Manager Form, Which Is Used In So Many Local Governments?
    The council-manager form is the system of local government that combines the strong political leadership of elected officials in the form of a council or other governing body, with the strong managerial experience of an appointed local government manager. The form establishes a representative system where all power is concentrated in the elected council and where the council hires a professionally trained manager to oversee the delivery of public services.

    • Is It A Responsive Form Of Gov-ernment?
    In council-manager government, council members are the leaders and policy makers elected to represent various segments of the community and to concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens’ needs and wishes. The manager is appointed by council to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served. If the manager is not responsive to the council’s wishes, the council has authority to terminate the manager at any time. In that sense, a manager’s responsiveness is tested daily.

    • What Is The Council’s Function?
    The council is the legislative body; its members are the community’s decision makers. Power is centralized in the elected council, which approves the budget and determines the tax rate, for example. The council also focuses on the community’s goals, major projects, and such long-term considerations as community growth, land use development, capital improvement plans, capital financing, and strategic planning. The council hires a professional manager to carry out the administrative responsibilities and supervises the manager’s performance.

    • What Is The Manager’s Function?
    The manager is hired to serve the council and the community and to bring to the local government the benefits of training and experience in administering local government projects and programs on behalf of the governing body. The manager prepares a budget for the council’s consideration; recruits, hires, and supervises the government’s staff; serves as the council’s chief adviser; and carries out the council’s policies. Council members and citizens count on the manager to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives, and long-term consequences.

    • What Is The Cost To The Local Government Of Appointing A Professional Manager?
    Local governments have found that overall costs actually have been reduced with competent management. Savings come in the form of reduced operating costs, increased efficiency and productivity, improved revenue collection, or effective use of technology.

    • Does The Manager Participate In Policy Determination?
    The manager makes policy recommendations to the council, but the council may or may not adopt them and may modify the recommendations. The manager is bound by whatever action the council takes.

    • Where Does The Mayor Fit In?
    Mayors in council-manager communities (or chairpersons in counties) are key political leaders and policy developers. In the case of the council, the mayor is responsible for soliciting citizen views in forming these policies and interpreting them to the public. The mayor presides at council meetings, serves as a spokesperson for the community, facilitates communication and understanding between elected and appointed officials, assists the council in setting goals and advocating policy decisions, and serves as a promoter and defender of the community. In addition, the mayor serves as a key representative in intergovernmental relations. The mayor, council, and manager constitute a policy-development and management team.

    • Are All Council-Manager Governments Structured The Same Way?
    No. One of its most attractive features is that the council-manager form is adaptable to local conditions and preferences. For example, some communities have councils that are elected at large while other councils are elected by district. Some local governments have mayors who are elected by the voters at large; others are elected by their colleagues on the council.

    • Is This Form Of Government Used Only In Certain Kinds Of Cities?
    No. In fact, it is not restricted to cities. It is used by counties too. Currently, 3,625 cities operate under this form. Additionally, 529 counties indicate that they operate under the county administrator form. They vary greatly in size and characteristics, including independent cities, center cities, suburbs, and counties.

    • How Many Americans Live In Communities That Operate Under Council-Manager Government?
    More than 75.5 million.

    • Is The Form Popular In Large Communities?
    Yes. Out of 199 cities with greater than 100,000 citizens, 112 use this form of government. Some examples are Phoenix; San Diego; Dallas; Cincinnati; San Antonio; Kansas City, Missouri; and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

    • How Much Citizen Participation Is Possible Under Council-Manager Government?
    Successful examples of citizen participation in the local government service delivery decision-making process are widespread among professionally managed U.S. communities. Because professional local government management offers government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it sets the stage for citizen activism by encouraging open communication between citizens and their government. Examples range from visioning, in which citizens play a major role in determining the future of their community, to neighborhood service delivery, which involves residents through the development of citizen/government partnerships, to community-oriented local government services. Because political power is concentrated in the entire governing body rather than one elected official, more citizens have an opportunity to be elected to a position in which they have significant influence over the future of their community.

    • What Is The History Of The Council-Manager Form?
    Born out of the turn-of-the-century progressive reform movement, the council-manager system of local government is one of the few original American contributions to political theory. In 1908, Staunton, Virginia, instituted the first position legally defining, by ordinance, the broad authority and responsibility associated with today’s professional local government manager. Sumter, South Carolina, was the first city to adopt a charter incorporating the basic principles of council-manager government in 1912. Westmount, Quebec, introduced the form to Canada in 1913. The first large city to adopt the plan was Dayton, Ohio, in 1914. The first counties to adopt it in the l930s were Arlington County, Virginia, and Durham County and Robeson County, North Carolina. Since its establishment, the council-manager form has become the most popular form of government in the United States in communities with populations of 5,000 or greater. The form also is popular in Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Honduras, Chile, and Brazil. 

    • What Salary Does The Manager Receive?
    Earnings of managers depend on their educational background and experience, the size and complexity of the local governments employing them, and the economic conditions of the regions where communities are located. The council sets the manager’s salary. Detailed information on salaries is compiled annually by ICMA and is available on request.

    • Can The Manager Be Fired?
    Managers serve at the pleasure of the council or governing body. They can be fired by a majority of the council, consistent with local laws, ordinances, or employment agreements they may have with the council. Control is always in the hands of the elected representatives of the people.

Decatur MSA Adds 
Good-Paying Jobs 

Hundreds more jobs are helping to boost our local economy and putting people back to work, according to news from the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur - Macon County (EDC).
    The state’s May employment report for the Decatur Metropolitan Statistical Area shows an increase of 500 jobs. 
    Those jobs are (non-farm) positions mostly in manufacturing and construction.
    The EDC also reported a steady growth in the number of people living and working in the Decatur area. In one year, our local labor force and local employment increased by over 1,200.
    In short, there’s a positive thrust towards the future in our community and the statistics show that reality, despite what a few naysayers try to spread around the community claiming that Decatur is going downhill.
    I realize that facts are usually confusing for naysayers (which is why they usually don’t read them) but job growth in our community cannot be denied and many of those jobs being created, and filled, are good paying jobs.
    Ryan McCrady, president of the EDC stated:  “The steady and sustained job growth is demonstrating a very positive trend for our local economy. The significant increase in the number of individuals both working and living in our community will improve the quality of life in Decatur and result in additional retail, recreational, and entertainment opportunities. They will also provide critical financial resources to assist our local government bodies in providing critical services. 
    “The credit for this job growth goes to our dedicated group of local employers, and to the outstanding workers who produce high-quality products and services.”
    Our future looks bright!!!!

Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY or visit our website at or 




Decatur Tribune Online


​​Central Park Fountain in Downtown Decatur

Mac On Sports

Gritti, Big Blue 
Gaining Respect

Decatur City  Council Appoints Billy Tyus As Interim City Manager 

The Decatur City Council approved the appointment of Billy Tyus as Interim City Manager during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. 
    Tyus fills the post on an interim basis being vacated by current City Manager Tim Gleason, who announced recently that he is leaving to be city manager in Blooming-ton, Illinois. 
    The Decatur City Council plans to hire a search firm to lead its search for a permanent city manager and will announce details about the search in the coming days. 
    The council also wants to encourage public input as part of the search and will soon have a link on the city’s web site where residents can provide views on qualifications that they would like to see in the next manager.         Residents can also mail input to the City of Decatur at the following address: 
 Decatur City Manager Input 
   C/O Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe 
   1 Gary K. Anderson Plaza 
   Decatur, IL 62523 

    Tyus has more than 22 years of public and private sector experience in government, media, community engagement and economic development and in September will have spent the last 18 years working for the City of Decatur. For more than a year he has served as Deputy City Manager, a second-in-command post for the team directing the day to day operations of the City, and previously worked in a variety of roles including Assistant City Manager for Development Ser-vices, Assistant City Manager for Public Information, Assistant to the City Manager and Public Information Officer. 
    Under the direction of City Manager Tim Gleason, Tyus has been positioned in an expanded role over the last several years, having been more directly involved in the overall administrative operations of the city. 


New law enforcement-themed Heroes Hall opens to the public at the Children’s Museum of Illinois

Attorney General Madigan Recovers $20 Million For Illinois Pension Systems

     Attorney General Lisa Madigan has announced a $20 million settlement with Royal Bank of Scotland as a result of the bank’s misconduct in its marketing and sale of risky residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) leading up to the 2008 economic collapse.

    The settlement with Royal Bank of Scotland resolves an investigation by Madigan’s office over the bank’s failure to disclose the true risk of RMBS investments.
    “With this settlement, I have recovered over $475 million for Illinois pension systems and residents as a result of fraudulent conduct in the mortgage-backed securities market,” Madigan said. “Nearly a decade after the economic crisis, I continue to recover critical funds for the state due to Wall Street’s misconduct.”
    Under the settlement, Royal Bank of Scotland will pay $20 million to the State of Illinois. The settlement proceeds will be distributed among the Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois, the State Universities Retirement System of Illinois, and the Illinois State Board of Investment, which oversees the State Employees’ Retirement System.
    The settlement is the eighth settlement addressing the sale of mortgage-backed securities during the lead up to the economic collapse. Madigan previously settled with JPMorgan Chase & Company for $100 million to Illinois’ pension systems; with Citigroup for $44 million to the state’s pension systems and an additional $40 million in consumer relief; with Bank of America for a record $300 million, including $200 million to Illinois’ pension systems and an additional $100 million in consumer relief; with Morgan Stanley for $22.5 million to the state’s pension systems; and with Goldman Sachs for $25 million for the state’s pension systems and $16 million in consumer relief. Madigan also secured a $52.5 million settlement with Standard & Poor’s and a $19.5 million settlement with Moody’s to resolve allegations that the companies compromised their independence by doling out high ratings to risky mortgage-backed securities as corporate strategies to increase its revenue.
    Attorney General Madigan has led the country in taking legal action against banks, lenders and other financial institutions for unlawful financial misconduct that contributed to the country’s economic collapse. Madigan’s enforcement actions have recovered over $3.3 billion for consumers, communities, county recorders and pension funds.

​​Decatur Family YMCA to Host 3rd Annual McElroy Memorial Golf Outing July 20

    The Decatur Family YMCA will host the 3rd Annual McElroy Memorial golf outing, presented by Skeff Distributing, Friday, July 20 at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur, IL.
     The McElroy Memorial golf outing honors the legacy of Mayor Mike McElroy, paying tribute to a man who worked tirelessly to improve lives throughout Macon County.
     Event proceeds benefit the Y’s annual campaign, ensuring all children and families – regardless of background or income – have a chance to benefit from the YMCA’s life-changing programs and services, such as swim lessons, summer camp, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA for cancer survivors, licensed daycare, preschool and afterschool programs.
    The format for the McElroy Memorial is a 4-player scramble. A “Toast to Tuna” evening ceremony, sponsored by Team Soy, will be held immediately following golf.
    Registration fees are $150 per golfer and $600 per foursome, which includes lunch provided by Jimmy John’s, dinner provided by Mac’s Pigskin Diner and 4 drink tickets. Golfer tee gifts are a keepsake Toast to Tuna koozie and drawstring backpack.
     For team registration and sponsorship opportunities contact Natalie Beck at or 217-872-3835, ext. 129.​​

Mac On Sports

Condition Of Alexander Field Poses Problem For Decatur School District

Osborne Online
Hateful Names Hurt More Than Sticks And Stones

Decatur Celebration Announces The Headliners For 33rd Annual Street Festival 


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