Knope of the Week: Greg Baker, Damascus City Manager

After a long holiday break including a brief jump off the fiscal cliff, the Knope of the Week is rested and ready to anoint the standouts in the local government arena for 2013. This year recipients will not only the incredible fame and glory associated with the award, but they will be recognized with a token of appreciation that will only be known by the recipients.

Before we move forward, take a look back at the 52 recipients from 2012. Each recipient will tell you that life has changed dramatically with the recognition, similar to a lottery winner minus the money and notoriety. ELGL proudly notes that before awarding a Knope of the Week we test the potential recipient for performance enhancing drugs. We also proudly note that those individuals have no idea that they’ve ever been tested.

Now onto the beginning of a new year, the 12th recipient for 2013 is …

Greg Baker, Damascus City Manager

Those who attended yesterday’s forum left more knowledgeable on a number of topics from governance in Missouri and Oregon to the history of Negro League baseball. Damascus staff especially Theresa Nation and Linda Richardson helped coordinate the perfect setting.

Here are a few of the takeaways and quotes from Greg which would make Leslie Knope proud. 

  • Greg’s first job was working for nuns in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • “I tend to be a bit loquacious about things I feel passionate about.” 
  • “Very excited to help build a community from the ground-up.” 
  • “Ingenuity of mankind to create energy.” Energy sustainability is important to Greg Baker.
  • Took Oregon job because of the natural beauty, clean air. Proximity to ocean, mountains. Community interest in sustainability.
  • “We get better when we exchange ideas.”
  • “Think of Damascus as a sister city and don’t believe everything you read as we mature as a community.”
  • Greg Baker once hugged a tree in front of Satchel Page’s house. True story.
  • “Negro baseball league did so much for civil rights in America.”
  • Satchel Page references, public administration leadership
  • “Long before Rosa Parks and MLK, there were the Negro baseball leagues.”
  • Did you know… Damascus city manager Greg Baker played semi-pro baseball for a while.
  • Hey ICMA – Damascus city manager Greg Baker would be a great speaker at ICMA conference given his diversity of experiences.
  • “Damascus has an exceptionally managed its finances.”
  • “So exciting to be in this environment. Keep looking ahead.”
  • Greg Baker vision for Damascus: “become a Mecca for jazz or baseball.” “Whatever is done, fold in the community values.”
  • Damascus is a “breath of fresh air” for citymanager Greg Baker.
  • Strong political powers in Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) that are masters at citizen involvement. So Damascus is no surprise to Greg Baker.
  • Greg Baker saw several people go to jail in KCMO for criminal behavior, corruption. 
  • Greg Baker thoughts on Oregon comparison to KCMO…
  • KCMO not nearly as transparent as OR local government.
  • KCMO was historically known as the badlands. There’s a history associated with the region that remains today.
  • The community wants city manager to reach out and talk to them
  • City manager is to constantly monitor and maintain city operations and staff work.
  • Talent, human relations, technical competency, loyalty are the cornerstones of public administrators.
  • “If citizens don’t like your front counter they’re going to hate you by the time they reach the back office.”
  • Damascus is “no different” than any other local government. City has a great staff and they work hard for the community.
  • “Believe only what you can put your hands on.” Damascus Greg Baker feedback on newspaper coverage.
  • “Exciting thing about Damascus is that there’s a huge canvas to grow.”
  • “He who can find the best talent will be most competitive in the marketplace.
  • “I have found some precious people here. If we could replicate them across the county we would make this nation better.
  • Adjustment objectives: meet with key leaders and understand what key challenges are moving forward.
  • There is an adaptation to Oregon land use policies for out of state managers.

Don’t forget to heed Greg’s recommendation to show support for Damascus staff by inviting them to coffee or lunch so each of you can learn from one another.

Previous RecipientBaby Boomers