Saying Goodbye

The City of Albany is losing two exceptional people with the resignations of Ralph Reid from the Council and Diane Taniguchi-Dennis from her position as Public Works Director.  These losses follow the recent departures of a number of outstanding employees and precede the loss of many more in the months ahead.  I do not recall a time in my career where such a high percentage of experienced people chose to leave over such a short period of time.

Councilor Reid is retiring for health reasons after more than 16 years of service on the council.  I have been around for about a third of that time, and I am grateful for the chance I’ve had to work with Ralph.  The passion, commitment, and energy he has given as a volunteer humble me when I sometimes grouse about attending an evening meeting or event.  I particularly appreciate Ralph’s understanding of the differences between the policy-making role of the Council and the administrative responsibilities of staff.  He is a strong advocate for transportation issues and has been an invaluable volunteer driver for the City’s Call-a-Ride program for many years.  Ralph will be missed as a councilor, volunteer, and friend.

I will also miss Diane Taniguchi-Dennis’s insight, intelligence, compassion, and vision.  Diane has the unique gift of being a visionary leader while remaining a practical and effective team member.  She helped complete the largest public works projects in the history of the City during her tenure and has been instrumental in finding workable solutions to the inevitable problems that accompany projects of this size.  The name “Talking Water Gardens” may not appeal to everyone, but it is hard not to like this award-winning solution to the problem of meeting temperature requirements for wastewater discharge into the Willamette River.  Albany, Millersburg, and ATI Wah Chang, one of the area’s largest employers, now have a serviceable treatment system that is also a significant community amenity.  Diane deserves great credit for her management of the Public Works Department over the past eight years, and I know she will be equally successful in her new position with Clean Water Services.

The sadness of departures is often leavened by the opportunity of new arrivals.  Mark Shepard will begin service as our Public Works Director in August, after nearly 20 years of service with the City.  I believe the two essential qualities of a successful manager are integrity and competence.  Mark has consistently demonstrated these traits in the years I’ve known him.

Earlier this week, I spoke with five new employees during an orientation session and repeated something I’ve said many times since coming to Albany six years ago.  I told them I believe the City of Albany is a great place to work and an outstanding organization.  I could cite many reasons for my belief, but the most important is the positive attitude of the people who dedicate their time and talents to making the City effectively serve the community.  Ralph and Diane are great examples of that attitude, and they deserve our thanks for a job well done.