No Job Opening?

We do not have a job opening for Main Street Director, do not pursue this position.

At first glance it seems like a clear message; clear enough to stop most people in their tracks. I couldn’t bring myself to listen, it just made me do more evaluating and as a result, I’ve got more to say on the matter.

I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have been thinking about what I thought was best for the Village because they were already all over it and “They” know what’s best for us. I wanted to implement ideas for the position to be self funding, I wanted to contribute, I want the Blissfield Community to thrive, knowing that if business in Blissfield wins, we all win.

As it turned out, my approach was very wrong because I showed my hand. The last thing they wanted was someone that would “think “or show initiative, creativity, passion and oh God, what about all those opinions I have? I can actually contribute, plus I have a few other things detrimental and not at all suited for a government job called common sense and honesty or how about way too many customer service skills? But I don’t think that scared them as much as what else I said in my proposal for the job, I told them straight up I didn’t belong to anyone, I’m not socially enmeshed in the community and would fight equally for every business in the Village. Fight equally? If that doesn’t scare a politician…where was my common sense when I wrote the proposal?

First I was supposed to learn how to play the game, let it be known I was pliable and would always look neutral while doing exactly what I was told. A good politician knows how to play both sides of the fence, undetected – now that’s real talent! Besides, the Michigan Main Street (MMS) initiative is only for the historic downtown district and how would that work for all of the rest of the outlying businesses?

Looking Up

Jim Wonacott’ told me explicitly on three occasions (once on the phone when I called for an appointment to offer my 7 page proposal, another at my appointment and one more time during the next DDA meeting in the presence of board and guests) that the Main Street program was very clear about NOT hiring a Director for the Main Street program UNTIL they have been approved for the “Select Level- 5 year” commitment, yes they were very clear about that. He also said when I first walked in to his office and told him why I was there; “it’s pretty funny that you know what the position entailed when we don’t even know what we want yet.” This remark turned out to be the start of a trend.

Through a volunteer group I was volunteering with, in an email reply to someone else’s comments regarding the recruitment of 100 volunteers. I re-iterated a portion of my proposal message as to why I thought a Director should be put in place, regardless of their selection status for Main Street and how instrumental those ideas could have been. They would have helped with volunteer recruitment and how proper management of a substantial volunteer base is crucial. Also, as I explained further, it could have benefitted them for their MMS application. Again I was chastised, this time from another official that sent the warning email , intended for me but sent to someone else so that person could broadcast it to the group, he wrote;

“A note to everyone as the chair of the DDA,
We do not have a job opening at this time and no one should be perusing the main st. manager’s position. If and when the time comes to fill that position or any part time position the DDA board will make that determination.
DDA Board Chair
Lynn H. Southward”

Since I was the only one that was pursuing the position of Director and making no bones as to why, I felt the right thing to do was to send that email to me.
I guess an explanation of something I deemed critical was considered campaigning and it left a bad taste in the mouths of those who regularly dish it. Or they could’ve been well aware of the mismanaging dangers but were forced to disregard them, bent on achieving their goals, either way nobody was about to be upfront with me.

Back to Mr. Wonacott’  “Hiring a Director” misinformation, I had a hard time understanding why he would have received this directive, so I dug up and read this information on the Michigan Main Street Center brochure,  it only referenced the following assistance where the key words are “ available and assist”;
Manager Selection Assistance (C)

Michigan Main Street staff are available to assist with all aspects of the Main Street Manager selection process. The Michigan Main Street program will offer sample job descriptions, job postings, applicant interview questions and assist with interviews.

For those who like to do their own research, here’s the link.
I may be reading too much into it but this information reads to me that if a Director is not already in place and the board will be selecting a Director because you are mandated to have a Director if selected and if you don’t have a clue what you are doing, then Michigan Main Street could supply some help.

I would certainly understand needing this assistance if you’ve never operated or managed a business or never held an executive position and the hiring process is entirely foreign to you and it’s within your very first six months serving for the first time as a Village Administrator and there is no such thing as the internet and your closest neighbor is 200 miles away. What I understand is (if my analytical skills are working) Mr. Wonacott’, or whoever is pulling the strings thought the best way to handle this is to let the community know well in advance they will be hiring a Director but dissuade the people that come forward and show interest. If we do get selected, sometime later in the fall we’ll just really hope hard that some stupid puppet is still left out there and shows up for the job right then. And let’s also hope really hard not to have a repeat of the Chamber Board Chair scenario where no one was about to step up and take the job.

The first DDA meeting I attended, the board was considering a proposal to hire a company to set up entrepreneur training and business development at a cost of $5,000.00 per month. Why would they have even considered this proposal if this exact assistance is also offered by the Main Street program. The Main Street program states they are largely about that.
Entrepreneurship Training (L)

This two and a-half day intense training program promotes a thorough understanding of entrepreneurship as a vital economic development strategy for communities. Main Street practitioners, locally elected officials, stakeholders and residents will walk away from the training with tools and a strategy on how the community can become entrepreneur friendly, which will help attract new businesses and improve their current businesses.

Surely Main Street would not have directed them to consider a proposal that duplicates Main Street efforts. Of course by this time I’m feeling very much like they are playing politics with me and I start to wonder how concerned they really are with rejuvenating the downtown and economic development. I know they’ve been working hard at looking like they are.  Have I just been witnessing job security measures?

If the Village has been involved with Michigan Main Street for at least 1 year as an Associates Level participant (a prerequisite in applying for Select Level) combined with all the previous years experience the Chamber of Commerce has from hiring three different directors in the past, why wouldn’t the Village know what they need or would like a Director to accomplish at this point?

What the volunteer group and Village Officials have repeatedly tried to tell me is “Robin, you have to learn your place, don’t contribute unless we specifically ask you for it”…ouch, give me a moment…hey!  That sounds like “don’t speak unless spoken too” or “a child should be seen and not heard”.
Did they have any archaic sayings designed to eliminate independent thought and analysis too?

My out of line thinking is still wondering, who would round up 100 volunteers in April then tell them to sit tight, we’ll probably find something for you to do, well maybe…next spring, we have to wait for Main Street or a State program to tell us?  Maybe they were planning on winging it and effectively lose a bunch of volunteers…for life; the same way they lost me.  On the bright side though, those volunteers could have very well been trouble, just like me, with ideas and opinions and stuff, leaving feeling they’re in incompetent hands.

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