Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Biskupski Shakes Up City Hall

utahpolicy ksl 400 wide smaSalt Lake City mayor-elect Jackie Biskupski shook up city hall last week by asking most of the appointed department heads, minus the police and fire chief, to submit their resignations as she prepares to take the reigns of the city.

Biskupski is taking some heat for the decision, with some saying it was a callous decision.

Biskupski says she will review every resignation individually before deciding to accept them.

Our “Political Insiders” are split over whether the move was warranted or a gaffe. 

73% of the Republicans on our panel applaud the move. Democrats are divided right down the middle, with 48% saying she was right to ask for the resignation and 48% replying she mishandled the situation. Nearly 60% of our readers say Biskupski did not handle the situation correctly.


Selected anonymous comments:

“A good purge is sometimes a good idea. If I were one of the Department heads I would follow the advice of Rocky Anderson and say fire me to be eligible for severance and unemployment.”

“Mayor-elect Biskupski and her advisors have shown their ignorance and made the first of many mistakes. It’s going to be a rough four years SLC, hang on.”
“It’s ironic she criticized Mayor Becker for a lack of tact in handling personnel issues and as her first major action as Mayor Elect she makes the same mistake.”
“This is normal. If you’re in an appointed position, this is what you should expect when the person who appoints you loses. No one expected Mia Love to keep Matheson’s staff when she won. Why do we expect Biskupski to keep Becker’s staff.”
“If this is the trajectory Jackie’s on, the next four years will be like a slow motion train wreck of arrogance and bad judgement.”

“Why on earth is this a big deal? She’s the head of a budget with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars at stake. Let her run it the way she wants to. I’m sure if it’s anything like the state auditor did with his office, she’ll hire back 80% of the staff and let go of the dead weight.”

“Fire people, don’t force them to quit. Handle your transition, you know, without asking for a budget right before you set up the previous administration’s staff to miss out on benefits.”
“The approach she applied to the fire and police chiefs should have been applied to the others. She may have some gems, and there is no reason to freak everyone out while she is finding out.”
“She will lose good people as a result of this action.”
“A new executive should be free to shape their branch of government. The resignations make for a snappy headline, but the reality is banal.”
“It seems to be quite extreme to ask for resignations before she has even taken office and had an opportunity to interview and determine the worth of each person affected.”
“She won the election, give her a chance and see how she does, if she doesn’t do well, the next election will take care of it.”
“Didn’t like either candidate but that building needed new blood!”
“Talk about rubbing it into the face of those who are most likely fellow Democrats working for SLC. I hope things don’t go down from here.”
“Her request tells city staff that she does not trust or respect them, she assumes they are political hacks. I have worked in cities and towns for many years and outside the mayor’s office nearly all employees are professionals just doing their jobs, serving their communities. She would have been better to make changes among the political appointees in the Mayor’s office and evaluate department heads over time. It should give pause to any person applying for a job at Salt Lake City how loyal works in her regime.”
“All administrations do this. There are no employees appointed in any administration that can ever expect to remain in their positions after the election is won by another candidate. Jackie is either being more transparent about it, or the media has blown this out of proportion in the way they have reported this.”
“Intimidation is not the most effective way to establish leadership.”
“It appears as though the Mayor wants to review each position and how that person will fit into the new administration’s goals and objectives. I suspect that many will retain their positions after the Mayor completes her review.”
“I worry that her cavalier treatment of City employees indicates that she is more interested in burning rather than building bridges with the people currently serving the City.”
“Newly elected executive branch officer holders (president, governor, mayor, etc.), especially for larger political entities such as SLC, ask for, rightfully so, the resignations of the staff appointed by the outgoing officeholder. That is where the actual ‘change of government’ starts. Whether the new executive asks for some or all the current appointees to submit a resignation before or after she or he takes office is beside the point. It is their right to do so. In Biskupski’s case, she will hit the ground running, and that’s gonna make things change for the better even faster. Go, girl, go.”
“Her intent may have been good, but the way she handled it was poor.”
“It is very frustrating that when Mayor-elect McAdams did this there was very little umbrage taken. If you’re an appointed staffer, you know there’s a likelihood that you may not be absorbed into a new administration. People need to put their big kid pants on about this.”
“Asking for resignations isn’t uncommon. Could she have been more diplomatic about it, probably, but this is all part of the transition process. She needs to know that the people that will work for her understand and can execute her vision for the City. Does it suck to be a City employee right now? Yes, but that comes with the territory.”
“It almost always comes down to ‘not what you do, but HOW you do it.’ Jackie has every right to do this, but she is showing an alarming lack of PR savvy here.”
“This is a non-issue. She has the right to do this.”
“PR could have better. Right idea.”
“Since she may refuse the resignation and keep the people in position, it doesn’t seem much different than asking for selective resignations.”
“This one will come back to bite her.”
“She should be able to put her team together. I’m glad she did.”
“Dougall did this and rehired most of the former staff. Gov Leavitt did it too. Why are we freaking out because Mayor-elect Biskupski wants to do the same thing?”
“This shows the leadership Salt Lake City wanted. It’s entirely appropriate to take a fresh look at personnel after two terms of incumbent leadership. I’m sure she’ll keep the best and brightest of the lot.”
“Though she asks for the resignations, she does not have to accept them. It’s a great method to review and rate employee performance, particularly in leadership positions. She will no doubt get rid of some, but she also is likely to keep some. Honestly, she should probably review the performance of public safety officials, as well. I hope she does.”
“We all hoped Biskupski would be a breath-of-fresh-air in the role of mayor. Sadly, she has started like a bull in a China closet.”
“Although she has the right to do this, it doesn’t make good sense. Certainly she will not accept all the resignations but for the ones she keeps this set a tone of omnipotence rather than being the captain of the team. It’s going to make the transition harder, no doubt.”
“It’s a whole different story when someone knocks out an incumbent than when it’s just an open seat being filled.”
“She’s showing her lack of understanding, something that plagued her campaign and will continue to plague her administration. Many are saying she’s a one-term mayor, she’s off to a good start proving them right.”
“I don’t understand what the issue is. These people represent the very city hall that Biskupski ran against. Of course you would toss them.”
“It is time to clean house! She is doing what she was elected to do. It’s a new day in Salt Lake City.”
“She wants to reset things. That’s her prerogative. The race is over but for some the political rhetoric and opportunity to attack seems to be too tempting. She hasn’t even started, and her critics are already writing her off.”
“I think that it is somewhere in between here. Before she asks for resignations, she should look at job performance and see who should go and what needs to be fixed. I can understand wanting to start fresh and require people to reapply for their job, but she needs to show a little more finesse as she moves into this position.”