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Few insiders at Richmond's dowdy City Hall thought newly hired City
Manager William (Bill) Lindsay, MBA 80, would stick around long.
After all, he had degrees from Yale and Haas and had just finished
a successful run as city manager of upscale Orinda. And Richmond
had many serious problems.
The insiders were wrong. Five years later, Lindsay is still on the
job, City Hall and the surrounding Civic Center sparkle after a $100 million facelift, and the city's finances—deeply in the red when he arrived—are on an even keel, despite the recession.
Lindsay says the job represents the fulfillment of a longtime commitment
to public service: "I came here wanting to grow personally
and professionally, and I felt I had something to give."
It hasn't been easy. Richmond is plagued with violent crime, a
17 percent unemployment rate, and now Chevron is threatening to
close its sprawling refinery, the city's largest employer and the source
of about 25 percent of its revenue.
Meanwhile, a double-digit decline in Richmond's sales and
property revenue due to the recession prompted a response that
illustrates Lindsay's management skills as well as his values. Rather
than slash and burn the city's workforce, Lindsay adroitly cut 50 taxfunded
positions through attrition, retirement incentives, and position
transfers into fee-based and grant-funded areas, while laying off
only five people. Still, he calls the reduction in force a "terrible event."
Lindsay, who earned a degree in economics from Yale, got a taste
of the private sector while working as a consultant. But public service
was his goal as far back as his high school days in Walnut Creek.
After working in various city management positions in East Bay
cities, he spent 10 years as Orinda's city manager before heading to
Richmond in 2005.
Lindsay didn't study city management at Haas—it isn't offered— but knew that management principles could be applied to the public sector: "I use those tools—accounting, finance, organizational development— everyday." His plans for the future? "Right here," he says. "I'm doing what I always wanted to do."
– Bill Snyder
William Lindsay, MBA 80