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City's New Publicist Starts Job Monday

Peggy Flynn, a Santa Rosa resident, has 15 years of public sector and nonprofit management experience.

There is a new voice for the city of Novato — an official public communication coordinator to boost outreach between the local government and the masses.

Peggy Flynn, a Santa Rosa resident with 15 years of public sector and nonprofit management experience, was introduced Wednesday by City Manager Michael Frank.

By a 4-1 vote, with Pat Eklund dissenting, the Novato City Council approved the reclassification of an existing position to "continue the city’s commitment to transparency and community engagement," according to a release. Flynn will report directly to Frank and start work Sept. 24. Her starting salary is $83,736.

Flynn most recently worked for the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. She served as communications manager for the now-defunct San Jose Redevelopment Agency and for the Santa Clara Valley Water District as well. She was a consultant for the Downtown San Mateo Association, a public affairs assistant with San Jose State University and a business manager at a biotech firm.

"The City Council has made it a priority to enhance our public outreach program, and we believe that Peggy is the right person to advance this goal," Frank said in the release. "She has extensive experience in the field working for a number of public agencies, and her record of achievement is very impressive.” 

Flynn, who has a journalism degree from San Jose State University, is the former owner of a fitness gym in Illinois. She was the executive director for the Downtown Bloomington (Ill.) Association in 2006-2008.

“The Novato community is clearly a special place,” Flynn said. “I’m delighted to be joining the city of Novato and to support the City Council and staff so that by working together we can improve accessibility to information and strengthen public participation.”

The position represents no change to the city's staff count because it replaces an administrative vacancy.

Click here for a story about this in the Marin Independent Journal. 

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Mark Burnham September 21, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Why aren't we paying city council members? Considering the amount of time each member must put in to do their job effectively it has to be a burden to each of them. Compensating council members would draw a far better qualified candidate. It would also enable them to become a council member on a full time basis. Currently we have a realtor, an EPA employee, an architect, a marketing guy, and a health and human services person. We would get a far better pool of candidate if we paid our city council members. We could pay for these city council members by limiting their ability to sign up for studies and consultants that are unecessary (restaurant consultant, parking consultant, sign consultants..ect..) and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Unpaid (minimal stipend) council members are costing the city far more in poor financial decisions driven by their nostaligia and a lack of common sense.
Susan Clark September 21, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Meanwhile...The city of Novato has just cut our Grafitti Abatement Program in half. If you noticed there no grafitti it's because our Grafitti Abatement program is working full time along with the help of many volunteers to remove the gang grafitti immediately. Where is the city manager and city councils commmon sense?
Jim L September 21, 2012 at 03:53 PM
The city council has the common sense to listen to the voters and do what we want. The perfect example is the New city office building in Downtown Novato. This has been a longtime dream of us voters to put it back where it belongs DOWNTOWN NOVATO !!!!! . Want change Run For The Office !!!!
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 21, 2012 at 04:19 PM
To all of the contributors/commentators on this issue, unless you can get the 70% to 80% of Novato voters who are so complacent as to not even vote in council elections off of their duffs the council will continue its social engineering unabated. Step One, vote out the incumbents. It is the voters of Novato who are responsible for all of the transgressions of the council and manager. Get your firends, relatives, and neighbors to read the Patch daily and keep current on civic affairs; THEN VOTE!
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 21, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Sorry, I have to disagree. Being a city council member should not be a career job, it should be a public service. I would like it much better if the crooks in Sacramento went back to legislating 1 month and actually having to earn a living under the laws that they create the other 11 months of the year. A career politician has one and only one objective, to get re-elected. We need more people in government, at every level, who do it out of civic responsibility; as our forefathers did.
John Parnell September 21, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Welcome Peggy. I've got to agree with Brent on this. Sure, we've had to cut 30% of our city workers, so this may not seem like the best use of funds. And yes, this might appear to be Michael Frank's way of trying to justify his terrible management of our town, and promote his policies which are the polar opposite of the citizens' wishes. However, if Ms. Flynn is able to do her job well, her "communication" will go both ways. If I take my cynic hat off for a second, I can hope that maybe Frank and the council might just start hearing their constituents a bit better...and then of course, I wake up and realize that it was just an dream. Let's give her a chance though. You never know...maybe she was the most qualified applicant, and Mr. Frank hired her (instead of someone from Novato) solely that reason.
Eleanor Sluis September 21, 2012 at 07:15 PM
In defence of the city council and their hiring of managers and other personnel- the objective is to bring more money to the downtown by building large structures and increasing traffic, not all of which makes for a small town ambiance. Those who voted in the majority must defend what the council did in favouring the Woodside Building, the Whole Foods-Millworks structure, and the Bay Vista structures. Those who voted in the majority must defend more building, smart trains, high-density housing, and an increase in population. Those who voted in the majority may own property and are involved with REITs. These real-estate investment trusts, which people, corporations, banks and businesses invest one million dollars, might have a 7% return on the property. The property is more valued if it is near the highway, near the railroad, or near bus transportation. Public relations personnel, city managers, and development directors are paid for developing high density, big building programs in the name of euphemisms such as “sustainability” or “environmental stewardship.” Why fault them? It is what the council and businesses want.
Beth Stein September 21, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Kudos to Pat Eklund for not going along with the majority. Pat often stands up to the extremists on the City Council. My taxes do not need to go for a PR person. Fix the City website, get out in the community and STOP being so divisive.
Eleanor Sluis September 22, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Public relations personnel, city managers, and development directors are paid for developing high density, big building programs in the name of euphemisms such as “sustainability” or “environmental stewardship.” Why fault them? It is what the council and businesses want. However, Novato has a minority of voters who want stewardship and sustainability to mean providing a balance of land, air, and water resources, with more emphasis on low density, preserving watersheds, driving fuel-efficient cars, and concentrating on solar and wind resources. In addition, Novato has a minority of voters who believe that educating youth in social responsibility, science and technology is more important than focusing on money-making schemes. As the new generation learns how to take care of our planet, knows the issues and paradoxes we face, while working to implement solutions for the next generation I believe we will have a better future. What legacy will the city council leave? One of big buildings, fewer trees, less water, crowded schools, more pollution? Highly paid PR people? Or a legacy of a friendly, California, middle-income, small town which has to fight for its right to continue its traditions and progress on a smaller scale?
Ventress Dugan September 22, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Eleanor...very well said....I hope the Council is listening!
Edwin Drake September 22, 2012 at 06:51 AM
I suggest that EACH of us who has left a message here, either pro or con, send the same sentiment to the entire city council and city manager and the IJ. The Patch is great, but voices must be heard.
janna nikkola September 22, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Does Michael Frank live in Novato? He lived in Sonoma County prior to landing the job as Novato city manager. I would not be surprised if he still lives there. Why should the city manager of Novato live in Novato? Because unless he lives here, he's less inclined to make decisions that have a favorable impact on the city and its taxpayers. Unless he lives in Novato, he does not get acquainted with the people whom he's sworn to serve and who pay his salary. Unless he lives here, he's more inclined to go along with outsiders who are so eager to build high density housing projects in our city because he will not be affected by the adverse consequences. He hasn't learned much about Novato during his tenure here. On a broacast of a recent city council meeting, he referred to our main street as "Grant Street" (small mistake, I admit, but offensive, nevertheless).
janna nikkola September 22, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I suspect much of her job will be putting a spin on the city council and city manager's many unpopular bad decisions and free them of the annoying task of explaining their many bad decisions to the taxpayers -- I think Novato Propaganda Minister would be a good job title and if there is going to be such a position at all (and I don't there should be), it should be at less than half this salary. How does this $83,736 salary compare to her former position or positions? This is much too much of the TAXPAYER'S money being squandered for too little purpose, but the city manager often gets confused about his responsibility and whose money he's spending. I often get the impression he thinks his job is to "manage" the taxpayers, while I think of him as someone to supervise the city's clerical, administrative, bookkeeping and maintenance staff. He has not yet managed to earn the taxpayers' trust or respect.
janna nikkola September 22, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Well said, Eleanor!
Edwin Drake September 22, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Is there any decision either the city council or M Frank has made lately that has not led to a sh*%storm of anger? Affordable Housing, Hanna Ranch, city offices, on an on -- if this doesn't show the council is broken than what does? (Exception: Pat Ecklund, who asks questions.)
Craig Belfor September 22, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Pat's a candle in the wind, and now that we have a full time $83,000 a year windbag, look for the hot air to drown out Pat's 20+ year residency and pro bono commitment to the people of Novato.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 22, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Nope. The council does not listen. They do not have to listen. Only 30% of the Novato voters bother to mail in their ballots, and those who do vote the "Incumbent" ticket, just as the immigrants off the boat did.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 22, 2012 at 09:23 PM
@Janna, of course Mr. Frank is very well acquainted with the people who live in Novato. Any time he wants to get better acquainted all he has to do is to look under his thumb. $83,000 is not that much. I could paint everyone's eye glasses rose tinted for that kind of money.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 22, 2012 at 09:25 PM
@Janna, could you translate "Novato Propaganda Minister" into German? It sounds so much more authoritative that way.
janna nikkola September 22, 2012 at 11:13 PM
There's something to be said for paying those whom we elect to run our city government but, if we're paying them, I don't think we need four of them. I've never been completely sold on the concept of a city council and think we might be better served by electing ONE mayor who would be compensated and eliminating the position of city manager, who's hired by the elected city council. I've not done the research, but I've often wondered why California cities are governed by city councils rather than an elected and compensated mayor. Having a part-time city council gives us weekend warriors who don't have the time to invest in deliberating over the many actions and decisions affecting our city and the taxpayers. As it stands, we have a city council who has been elected, but seemingly has no concern about the will of the people and Novato's various city councils have a history of going their own way on major decisions, rather than with the will of the people and the city manager hired by the city council has too much authority for his abilities and is not trusted or respected by the taxpayers (perhaps because he answers only to the city council and the city council answers to no one).
janna nikkola September 22, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Golly, are you saying that all we have to do is to vote for the candidates who make the promises we want to hear and then all will be well and those whom we elect will live up to their campaign promises? Who'd a thunk it?
janna nikkola September 22, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Novato's city council has had far too many secret closed meetings in which it's safe to assume they were discussing issues and opinions they didn't want Novato taxpayers to know about, so it's also safe to assume the city council and city manager will instruct this publicist on what she is to "sell" the taxpayers on and then put her own spin on the issue so it can be spoon fed to Novato taxpayers, rather than shoved down our collective throats.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 23, 2012 at 05:49 AM
@Janna, NOPE! Never, never, never listen to a politician speak. Look at what they have done, how they have voted in the past. Make your determination on those past actions. When in doubt, vote for anyone other than an incumbent.
Cindy September 23, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Novato hired this PR person at the TOP of the salary allowed, why not start out a little lower and see how she does? Novato is in the "swirl" mode, you know, when the water is swirling before the flush! The city looks worse than it ever has, unkempt parks, medians, streets, graffiti, etc, but we can afford to hire a PR person at the top of the salary scale? We're going down the toilet!!!!
Edwin Drake September 23, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Did M Frank have any personal knowledge and/or "awareness of" this new hire before she walked in the door? How many applied? How many were interviewed? It's not as if we're Manhatten. Novato is not a go-go-go town where decisions move at the speed of light.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 23, 2012 at 05:30 PM
GREAT QUESTIONS. Will the incumbent and deaf 4 answer this? Transparency, when it is convenient.
Craig Belfor September 23, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Jerome has nailed it again. If their actions don't impress you, change the person. Talk is easy. Actions count.
Craig Belfor September 23, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I disagree with you Eleanor. The minority is actually a majority. It just looks like a minority at the voting booth. Other than the weekly bye week with pads the NFL calls the Oakland Raiders, there is no more assured victory than being an incumbent in Novato, where only a small minority votes, and clicks on the name they recognize, as long as they still have a job, a home, and haven't been victimized by a crime. They'll only vote for a change when they are unhappy. True citizens vote to prevent, others just react when it's too late.
Edwin Drake September 24, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Does she know HTML, CSS, XML, or other web related tools? Much is made of her maintaining the city web site.
janna nikkola September 28, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Brent, I don't feel the comments here are complaints about Peggy personally. The comments have to do with the fact that the city council and city manager see a need for such a position at all. Surely you must agree the city council has had far too many secret closed meetings, so it's safe to assume they were discussing issues they did not want the taxpayers to know about. They were "called" on their excessive number of closed meetings, so out came a statement refuting their unwillingness to be more transparent. Next thing we know they've hired a communications consultant at the outrageous salary of $83,000+ which is being paid by the taxpayers. So the outrage is directed at the city council and the city manager for creating this position -- no one has anything against her personally -- but it's easy to question her background when someone starts out being outraged that a such a position has been created at all. My take on this is that it will be her job to put a positive spin on actions and decisions made by the city council and city manager that they know will cause outrage from the taxpayers -- so it's up to her to make these actions and decisions more palatable to the masses. I still think Minister of Propaganda is a good job title.

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