Gilmore’s fallen into a cognition trap and can’t get up.

“…letting our Interim City Manager go is by far the most unprofessional and stupidest decision that I have ever witnessed in my long standing career as an Executive Business Manager and almost ten years of volunteer work on three different Boards/Commissions for our city.” – Horst Breuer, resigned Chair of the Alameda Economic Development Commission, 1/5/2010

Mayor Gilmore has violated our trust and made a mess of our city government. Had she abided by the letter and intent of our laws, she would not have. Following the laws ensures an open process (sunlight) and a smooth and stable transition with newly elected officials at the helm.  Gilmore’s behavior has a deleterious effect across the board. . . . We’ve now lost Horst Breuer, chair the Economic Development Commission, because he refused to tolerate Gilmore’s irresponsible and illegal actions.  We’ve lost a committed man, along with his intellectual capital and broad/deep knowledge base of the city, who would have contributed greatly towards creating the future we deserve. This is a tragedy, folks. And for what?!

Maybe we’re just not seeing what’s really happening.  People do behave rationally relative to their own thinking. Stepping back and looking at the big picture: we should assume that Gilmore, Bonta and Tam think Gilmore’s behavior makes sense regardless of how irrational it appears…

What puts Gilmore’s behavior into the realm of rational? HOW does her behavior make sense?

a. If Gilmore have someone in mind for the city manager position (let’s call him/her CMx),

b. And she has confirmed that CMx will apply for the position (March 31, 2011),

c. And she has confirmed that CMx is available by end of Q1 2011

d. And she has confirmed that CMx will take the position if offered

e. And we know that it’s many qualified applicants will not be able to apply given the last minute rush and shortest of time periods to get to a job-hire decision

f. And we know that there is competition for good candidates because other cities are also looking for managers and this will further limit our options

g (for gilmore). Therefore, she can have great confidence that regardless of any number of qualified applications received, she will be able to rush to hire CMx at will.

And that is rational.  It’s wrong. But it’s rational.

To me, it looks like Mayor Gilmore is behaving as though she’s the head of a petty tyranny, free to act unilaterally to fix what she perceives needs fixing. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.  Because voters voted in the GilBonTam triad voting bloc onto our city council, she can act with alacrity. Until and unless Bonta finally decides to differentiate himself (and save his political career, IMO).  It  is wrong. Again, it has a deleterious effect across the board. She has put the city at risk for more lawsuits, she intended to put 3 unnecessary debits against our city bank account by having six people on the payroll doing the job of three (ICM, CA, ICM Admin) but finally chose 2 unnecessary debits as she had the ICM Admin rehired (what made her reverse her firing of the ICM Admin?  Fear, for her career?  Or respect for the law?  Everything points towards the fear option.).  Moreover, she has put the hiring process for city manager hiring into such a tailspin, a rush, that she has completely compromised that process: it is unlikely that a good candidate, let alone an optimum one, can be found, interviewed in February, and hired in March. In fact, given the circumstances, the process itself cannot itself be optimized. The city calls it an “aggressive” timeline; that’s a euphemism for “not feasible”.  Additionally, Tuesday night, Gilmore was unable to present any cogent thoughts guiding the city in the CM job description. She appears to be not just underperforming, but performing badly, lacking leadership, direction, and skill.

Unless the theory posited above–about the rationale of her thinking–is accurate. My best guess is, it is. And that means Gilmore has fallen into a cognition trap, an inflexible mindset formed from faulty reasoning with a powerful emotional component.  And can’t get out.


About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

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