He also is spending a lot of time getting to know the staff and the details of what he calls “a conglomerate corporation with 12 different business units.”
“I’m not a micromanager, but I want to know thy business. I want to understand how your department works every bit as well as you do and I want you to understand it as much as the guy beneath you. If I see a department that needs help, a director dealing with something outside his comfort zone, I’m going to lean in and help. A manager has to be able to mix it up, to jump in wherever he’s needed.”
Ochoa is inheriting a balanced budget this year and a positive outlook — aside from the loss of redevelopment — based on tax revenues, spending cuts and employee rollbacks.
“One of the good things about Glendale is that it has a very strong and stable vision of what it wants to be. If I had to define it, I’d say it is a dynamic balance, a place that is interesting and exciting, that reflects its diversity, a place that is vibrant for residents, for businesses. At the same time, they want to keep their sugar and salt in two different jars, residential area for residences, business areas for business.
“I’m finding this community likes to revisit matters from over time, whether it’s the aesthetics like windows, awning, landscaping, signage, or land use and zoning regulations. What people want isn’t more government, but better government,” he said.
The challenge facing Glendale and all communities is how to maintain, even improve, the quality of life despite the weak economy and long-term budget problems.
“We are going to have to prioritize on what our basic needs are and we’re going to have to provide seed money that community groups can leverage to provide programs they are passionate about,” he said. “There is so much social infrastructure in Glendale, groups of all kinds. I think you’ll see some traditional municipal services going forward will be delivered by community groups.
“We’ll find a way to get through all of this, get through all the stages of mourning, but we will get through it.”
RON KAYE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your thoughts and stories with him.