Why let facts get in the way of a good argument?

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

It would seem to buttress the case of the ultraconservatives that the average tenure of a city manager was five and a half years according to the International City/County Management Association, given that Doug Walker will be finishing up five and a half years in the city-manager job in Waynesboro when he steps down on June 30.

Only if it were true …

According to the ICMA website, the average tenure of city managers is 7.4 years as of the organization’s most recent survey report in 2006. That number was up sharply from an average 5.4-year tenure in 1989, which we’ll have to assume our friends in the Dump Doug camp used as the basis for their recent attempts to mislead us.

To wit:

– “Williams said the average city manager ‘lasts’ five and half years.” That was from today’s News Leader, quoting would-be mayor Tim Williams.

– “According to the ICMA (International City/County Management Association) the average tenure of a City Manager is 5.5 years.” That was from Alex Stevens in a comment on the AFP website.

– “I just did some research, and the average City Manager tenure is just over 5 years.” Stevens again, in another comment on the AFP site.

I did more research on the ICMA site to make sure that I had this right. The only other reference that I found on the site to studies of average tenure for city and county managers was to a 2002 study that reported that the average tenure that year was 7.2 years, up from 6.9 years in 2000.

As you can see, then, the trend is for tenures to go longer than we had been seeing 20 years ago.

But hey, why let facts get in the way of a good argument, right?

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