- Chris Shorter - Starting From Scratch in Baltimore [City Hall Stories, Ep. 29]
It’s not often in local government that you have the chance to define an entirely new role for a City. This is exactly what Chris Shorter is doing in Baltimore as its first ever City Administrator. Working closely with Mayor Brandon Scott, Chris is responsible for turning vision into reality and figuring out the nuts and bolts of creating a world-class city.
Making this even more challenging is the history of Baltimore itself - having a checkered history of under-investment and mismanagement.
To begin, Chris is listening - to both employees and residents. At the same time, he and Mayor Scott have a concrete Action Plan they’re implementing, refusing to accept the status quo as good enough.
Please enjoy my conversation with Chris Shorter.23m | Jun 15, 2022
- Mayor Michael Hancock - Envision Big Things, Delegate the Rest [City Hall Stories, Ep. 28]
Mayor Michael Hancock is one of the US’ most known Mayors. Having served Denver as an elected official for almost two decades, Mayor Hancock has seen perhaps the greatest transformation of any American city this century, with Denver exploding in growth, business and opportunity.
Yet with that opportunity has come real challenges - housing, transit, public safety. Yet while Mayor Hancock is the Chief Executive, he is under no illusion that these are his challenges to tackle alone.
In this episode we discuss the difference between a visionary and implementer leader, the most surprising aspects of being a major city Mayor, and his thought process before using his veto powers for the first time.
Please enjoy my conversation with Mayor Michael Hancock.32m | Jun 1, 2022
- Robert Clark - Project Save Our Streets [City Hall Stories, Ep. 27]
Robert Clark recently returned from an illustrious FBI career in Los Angeles back home to Ohio, specifically to lead the City of Columbus’ public safety efforts.
Like all other major cities in the US, the past two years has seen a worrying trend of increasing gun violence and homicides, undoing a decade plus of hard work in this area. But to Robert, the solution can’t be found in targeting these metrics alone or just putting cops on dots.
It comes with a broader understanding of what a quality life means, and the deeper social ills that are manifesting in these outcomes. I lost count of the number of times trust and transparency were mentioned, while at the same time Robert emphasized the uniquely difficult job law enforcement officials have, that many of us often forget.
Please enjoy my conversation with Robert Clark.34m | May 9, 2022
- Brandon del Pozo - The Good and Bad of Today's Policing [City Hall Stories, Ep. 26]
Chief Brandon del Pozo is one of the leading thinkers in Policing. Following a long career with the NYPD, Chief del Pozo moved north to lead the Burlington Police Department. While there he oversaw a 50% reduction in opioid overdose deaths, pushed through key transparency initiatives and undertook multiple analyses on equity and use-of-force.
Today, we discussed where policing is headed, how to bridge the gap between PD and community, and despite common beliefs, why the NYPD is one of the most progressive policing agencies across the world.
Please enjoy my conversation with Chief Brandon del Pozo.32m | Apr 21, 2022
- Tommy Gonzalez - The Secret Key to Local Gov Excellence [City Hall Stories, Ep. 25]
Tommy Gonzalez has earned the right to be called an all-star City Manager. Now leading the City of El Paso, Texas, Tommy has also managed in Lubbock, Dallas and Irving, earning awards for Performance Excellence along the way. His time in El Paso has seen it rise to one of the safest and well-run cities in the US, paying off debt while growing fund balances.
When I asked him how this was done, the answers were not at all what I was expecting. This story isn’t about balance sheet management, chasing grant funding or cutting services. Instead, it’s about one transformative idea that can be put to use whether you’re leading a billion dollar City or a local rec soccer team. That story is about the power of people, and I hope you stick around to hear what’s possible when you begin treating them as drivers for change rather than a cost center.
Please enjoy my conversation with Tommy Gonzalez.32m | Apr 5, 2022
- Maurice Classen - Landing the City of Chicago's Plane [City Hall Stories, Ep. 24]
When it comes to local government, it doesn’t get any bigger than Maurice Classen. Most recently the Chief of Staff for Mayor Lightfoot in the City of Chicago, Maurice’s role meant overseeing an $11 billion budget and 30,000 city staff, all the while managing the unique tensions of Covid and the George Floyd protests.
With a background in prosecution and police strategy, Maurice brings an analytical mind to the conversation that shines through on each topic, being able to understand and synthesize multiple points of view at one time to find a solution: no easy task.
Today, we discuss the pressure such a role entails both professionally and personally, how the City of Chicago tried to remain empathetic yet also responsible to its taxpayers throughout the 2020 protests, and a few war stories from the Mayor’s Office.
Please enjoy my conversation with Maurice Classen.29m | Feb 8, 2022
- Meredith Reynolds - Getting the Dream Job: Now What? [City Hall Stories, Ep. 23]
Meredith Reynolds is the Special Deputy City Manager for the iconic City of Long Beach, California. Handpicked in the middle of Covid to lead a unique team tasked with overseeing the City’s recovery, Meredith’s role ranges from community engagement, fiscal budgeting, operational management and more.
I specifically enjoyed this conversation not only for the discussion on the timely work being done, but also for Meredith’s extremely thoughtful insights into leadership at the top of local government: the good, bad and ugly. Her level of self-awareness and honesty will no doubt shine through to you also.
Today, we discuss what exactly Covid recovery entails, how to hear beyond the usual voices at the table, and what’s changed in her personal life after being given a shiny new title.
Please enjoy my conversation with Meredith Reynolds.29m | Jan 21, 2022
- Bridget Brennan - Fighting Fentanyl, Block by Block [City Hall Stories, Ep. 22]
Bridget Brennan is the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York. Responsible for prosecuting major drug related crime that stretches over the City’s five boroughs, Bridget has experienced severe changes in the narcotics landscape since taking the role 2 decades ago.
Today the country is being ravaged by Fentanyl, and New York is no different. Pouring in from Mexico, this cheap and easily concealable drug is finding its way into everything, from cocaine, to heroin and prescription pills like Oxy and Xanax.
With a fatal dose equating to a little finger-nail, getting the importation and distribution of this under control is critical. Today we talk about how this is being done, the interesting nuances of New York City in this regard, and more philosophically about the ‘war on drugs’.
Please enjoy my conversation with Bridget Brennan.28m | Jan 4, 2022
- Greg Russ - How to House 370,000 New Yorkers [City Hall Stories, Ep. 21]
Today marks the second episode of our mini-series, inside New York City Hall.
Greg Russ is the Chair and CEO of the largest public housing authority in the United States, the New York City Housing Authority. Impacting over a quarter of a million people, the ability of the Agency to provide safe and warm housing since 1935 has been critical to New York’s position as a cultural and economic driver.
That’s under threat, however, with massive capital demands mounting for widespread repairs.
The City, State and Federal governments all turned to Greg for his wealth of experience across the country in tackling this challenge. Today we talk through the ambitious plan his team has put forward to address this, why public housing remains a critical element for any thriving city, and the unfortunate challenges around communicating the plan the Authority has faced.28m | Dec 15, 2021
- Marcos Soler - Criminal Justice in NYC [City Hall Stories, Ep. 20]
This is the first episode on a mini-series, specifically focusing on the fascinating and unique local government institution of New York City Hall. To kick things off, today we’re speaking to Mayor de Blasio’s recent appointee to lead the Office of Criminal Justice, Marcos Soler.
Marcos brings an incredible background to the role, drawing on extensive academic work as well as roles within local and Federal government. This informs an incredibly rich perspective.
However, the thing you will notice about Marcos is his intense focus on being the quietest voice in the room. His view is that progressive reform comes when we focus on listening first, before proferring solutions.
Today we talk about the challenges with gun violence and crime New York is facing since Covid began, the success the Office has had in engaging the community directly in solutions, and the reasons behind the backlog in the local jail system.29m | Dec 7, 2021
- Arnoldo Matus - Saving the Sinking City [City Hall Stories, Ep. 19]
Arnoldo Matus follows a rich group of Chief Resilience Officers we’ve had on the podcast - one of the most fascinating and critical roles Cities are implementing to address rapid environmental and social changes. Arnoldo - now leading a private consultancy - oversaw one of the largest resiliency projects in the world, leading the sustainability charge for the massive Mexico City.
In this role Arnoldo had to grapple institutional objections and cultural sensitivities owing to the rich Mexican history. Today we discuss the precarious situation Mexico City sits with air pollution, draining water supplies and earthquake risks, how narcos on the Mexican border impact Mexico City, and what it will take for regular folks to ‘get in the game’ around the climate fight.
Please enjoy my conversation with Arnoldo Matus.28m | Nov 23, 2021
- Jeanethe Falvey - Cities and Paper: the Match Made in Hell [City Hall Stories, Ep. 18]
Jeanethe Falvey is the Chief Digital Officer of the City of Boston, Massachusetts. Jeanethe has an incredible resume that speaks to a love of the environment and a deep sense of care for her local community. While at the EPA she drove a revival of the historic Documerica project, before moving to lead National Geographic’s digital strategy. From here she was tapped to lead Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s - now Secretary of Labor - vision to accelerate digital accessibility for every Bostonian.
In our conversation we discuss the hard choices residents will have to make around data privacy if they truly want private sector efficiency, the singular power of photographs to evoke emotion, and why so many cities are still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to offering residents digital services.
Please enjoy my conversation with Jeanethe Falvey.39m | Nov 2, 2021
- Eleni Myrivili - Fighting Heat With Fire [City Hall Stories, Ep. 17]
Eleni, or Lenio, Myrivili is currently the Chief Heat Officer of the City of Athens, Greece, and a leading European actor in the urban fight for climate resilience and adaptation.
Formerly the Deputy Mayor for urban nature and resilience, she is on a mission to prepare Athens’ millions of residents for the decades of scorching heat that await.
Lenio was a delightful guest, and genuinely challenged my conception of a City’s role in the global response to climate change. We discuss best practices in heat-proofing cities, the heatwave that torched Europe this past summer, and how to continue getting out of bed each day when facing such monumental, and frankly scary, forces.
I hope you enjoy this conversation with Lenio Myrivili.
Jack English: LinkedIn30m | Oct 13, 2021
- Theo Blackwell - The World's Smartest City? [City Hall Stories, Ep. 16]
Theo Blackwell is London’s first Chief Digital Officer. Responsible for carrying out Mayor Sadiq Khan’s vision of cementing London as the leading digital-first local government in the world, Theo both provides strategic direction to the City on digital direction, while also facilitating innovation within the dozens of independent boroughs that make up the London metropolitan area.
Theo is passionate about transforming service delivery with a resident-first focus, and ensuring common design standards across all digital platforms to ensure a cohesive and easy experience for Londoners, whatever they’re trying to do.
Today we talk about managing IT projects that touch millions of people, how resource strapped communities can leverage technology for their benefit, and the difference between ‘interesting’ technology projects and ones that truly move the needle.
Please enjoy my conversation with Theo Blackwell.29m | Oct 6, 2021
- Ginger Spencer - How to Manage the US' Fastest Growing City [City Hall Stories, Ep. 15]
Phoenix is the fastest growing City in the United States. Located in the searing hot Southwest state of Arizona, its growth faces severe constraints from rising heat, water shortages and arable land. For it to be able to sustain the growing number of humans choosing it as home, it requires constant innovation in how it procures and allocates resources.
Enter Ginger Spencer, the City’s newly appointed Deputy City Manager responsible for overseeing Community and Economic Development, Planning, State Land and Revitalization. Having spent 20 years in Public Works achieving incredible outcomes, she now faces her most difficult challenge: ensuring Phoenix continues to grow while solving the myriad challenges that come with that growth.
Today we discuss rising through local government ranks, the imposter syndrome, and how to overcome the steep learning curve that comes with taking on an entirely new portfolio.
Please enjoy my conversation with Ginger Spencer.
Jack English: LinkedIn
Ginger Spencer: LinkedIn36m | Sep 28, 2021
- Stephanie Williams - Inclusivity is Not Food and Fun [City Hall Stories, Ep. 14]
The City of Worcester is the second largest city in the entirety of New England, just behind Boston. With that size comes an incredible diversity - over a fifth of its residents were born outside the USA.
Like all large American cities its spoils have not trickled down evenly, and not only is its median income $8000 less than the US average, but ethnic, historic and racial lines see big differences across demographics.
Stephanie Williams was recently brought in as the City’s Chief Diversity Officer, a role that’s beginning to arise more and more across local government. Today we talk about why ‘this time is different’ for diversity in Worcester, how to have difficult conversations in the workplace, and what the end goal of inclusion actually is.
Please enjoy my conversation with Stephanie Williams.28m | Sep 24, 2021
- Dave Amos - City Beautiful [City Hall Stories, Ep. 13]
Dave Amos runs City Beautiful, the most popular YouTube channel in the world focusing specifically on urban planning and design. Amassing over 36 million views, his videos draw from his PhD to introduce regular folks to concepts of livable and healthy communities.
Today we discuss things that local government leaders can do right now to address the climate emergency, why more freeway lanes are not the answer, and why the US can’t look to Europe for all of its urban planning answers.
Please enjoy my conversation with Dave Amos.
Jack English: LinkedIn35m | Sep 12, 2021
- Barbara Canales - I Thought I Could Change the World [City Hall Stories, Ep. 12]
South Texas has been the focal point of disaster for the past 18 months, and Nueces County is no different. Overseeing 250k residents, Judge Barbara Canales is the chief executive officer of a county which faced hurricanes, snow storms, and at one point the highest covid positivity rate in the US.
Today we talk leadership, how family informs her decision making, and the toughest decision she's faced in office. Sprinkled throughout are beautiful verbal paintings of southern Texas life, and why it's such a special place.
I hope you enjoy my conversation with Judge Barbara Canales.
Jack English: LinkedIn32m | Aug 24, 2021
- Shannah Hayley - Let's Just Delete Facebook [City Hall Stories, Ep. 11]
If you think all a communications team for a city does is send out notices when a pipe bursts (as I admittedly did), then you couldn't be more wrong. As we learn today from Shannah Hayley, Communications Director of Plano, TX, successful communication is one of the key strategic levers a local government has to drive engagement, trust and ultimately outcomes that better reflect it's residents.
Today we discuss some of the private sector instincts had to curb when joining local government, how she goes about recruiting world class talent for her team, and how her team has built the largest YouTube channel of any local government in the US.39m | Aug 16, 2021
- Jeff Cook - GovTech is Exploding [City Hall Stories, Ep. 10]
Behind every City, Village and State is a web of tools enabling staff to keep our lights on, our roads paved and our taxes safe. Many of these tools are software applications loosely connected by the name GovTech. This space has seen an eruption of interest in the past decade with the growth of software as a service, and especially in the past few years as a growing mound of capital chases stable growth.
Jeff Cook sits in the middle of this all as managing director of shea and company. A leading author on GovTech, Jeff's role is facilitating the growth of GovTech firms through investment, mergers and acquisitions.
While this sounds like a rather dry subject I do hope you stick around for this episode as I found it personally fascinating. Jeff takes us on a retrospective through the industry, why govtech is in the global investment spotlight, and how a deal comes together.
Jack English: LinkedIn32m | Aug 2, 2021