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Thread: And you thought your job was tough...

  1. #1
    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
    May 2003
    In the palm of the mitten

    And you thought your job was tough...

    Got this from the Governing Magazine website , from Otis White's column:

    Know It Alls
    What is the worst local government job in America? Lots of candidates, but here's a nominee: city planning director in a college town. Why would that be such a lousy job? Because college towns are full of high-IQ types who make their living by talking and offering opinions and have little regard for other professionals. That explains why Carol Barrett is leaving Berkeley, Calif., the college-town suburb of San Francisco. Barrett came to the planning director's job there with impressive credentials: former president of the Texas chapter of the American Planning Association, founding member of the college of fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planning, author of a book on ethics for planners. Sounds like she would fit right in at brainy Berkeley. A year and a half later, she's fleeing back to Texas. Says Chip Johnson, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, the reason is that Berkeley's "vast array of activist-experts" made Barrett's life miserable. "The people she came in contact with, by phone and in person, often were zealous to the point of being irrational," Johnson writes. If she didn't give these people the answers they wanted, she was "personally maligned." Aren't people in Berkeley ashamed of the way they act? Nope. The publisher of the city's weekly paper proudly wrote that "putting up with that kind of intellectual critique has always been part of the job description for staffers in university towns, and it always will be." This explains why Berkeley is now looking for its fourth planning director in four years and why Barrett is looking forward to her return to sanity, "I want to work in a city where the planning commission is interested in professional ideas and recommendations," she says.


  2. #2
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
    Aug 2001
    I had a hard time dealing with the same type of zealous activism in Davis (about an hour away from Berkeley). It's an even smaller town, where EVERYBODY knows everyone. After five years in Davis, I was ready for just about anywhere (except for maybe Berkeley). The activism in every town since has been a cakewalk.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
    Nov 2002
    Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve

    other challenges of college communities

    I once worked for a small college community where the college administration actually had it's own supposedly clandestine community planning effort underway. Their intent, apparently, was to come up with their own plan for the community, and then shove it down the governing board's collective throat.

    Their effort ended once we (the local government) learned what was going on and invited them to go public with their ideas.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  4. #4

    Jul 2002
    Chicago, IL
    Evanston, IL, the home of Northwestern University, is known for the same kind of local involvement, but probably without the left-leaning bend. Oak Park, IL also has its fair share of activist-experts without being a college town.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    I get a kick out of them calling "intellectual critique." The fact is that the criticism is usually anything but educated or even well-reasoned. The people offering these criticisms are generally fanatical to the point of irrationality, and at the same time so egotistical to think that they are the intellectual superior of anyone around them. They are so closed-minded (thank you, Allan Bloom) that they cannot begin to comprehend that somebody with a differing viewpoint may have a valid reason for their belief, much less be correct.

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