Mayor Ed Murray's chief of staff Mike Fong sent out a staff memo this afternoon announcing that deputy mayor Kate Joncas will take on a new role, going full time on two projects she'd already been working on as deputy mayor, overseeing transparency and open access at city hall and helping with the Seattle Center redesign.
She will still retain her title as deputy mayor and still be part of the mayor's executive team. (That's good, because the team cannot afford to lose any women.)
Simultaneously, Murray is bringing Fred Podesta, the head of the city's Finance and Administrative Services Department, into his office to take over Joncas's main role of being the mayor's liaison to the departments. Podesta's new title will be Director of City Operations and FAS.
Murray spokesman Jeff Reading says the mayor's office has a small staff, and the changes address the need to give them more capacity. He says, for example, that having the FAS director housed in the mayor's office will help efficiency; FAS basically runs the city's business side, like paying bills.
"This is not a demotion [for Joncas]," says Reading, who left his job as Murray spokesman himself one year into Murray's term and is currently filling in because his replacement left.
Addressing all the churn and turnover in Murray's office, Reading added:
“Kate’s done a great job, no question. This new assignment dedicating her to two major priorities reflects the Mayor’s confidence in her. As to the issue of churn, I think this new alignment directly addresses it. The mayor’s office is understaffed—we’re the smallest mayor’s office staff among the largest 25 cities. Staff works extremely hard and runs the risk of burning out (and I think I might be exhibit A on that account). But bringing in Fred Podesta in this new alignment and add the support of a department brings more capacity and resources to the mayor’s office, which is clearly what is needed. This is as high a functioning office as can be found, and this new alignment will give staff on the 6th and 7th floor a chance to catch their breath.”
Here's the memo that went out this afternoon:
With Seattle Public Utilities Director Ray Hoffman’s departure, this morning Mayor Murray announced his appointment of Mami Hara as his successor. Director Hara’s nomination will be considered by the City Council in September. In the interim, Melina Thung will serve as Interim Director of SPU.
The Mayor has often stated that 2014 was the year of raising the minimum wage; 2015 was the year of HALA and affordable housing; 2016 is the year we bring the City together around a vision for education; and next year, 2017 would be the year we advance excellence in governance through performance management, reforms and accountability measures. Another major initiative going into 2017 is related to leveraging strategic partnerships and developing a vision for the future of Seattle Center. Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas has been assigned the task of leading the City’s efforts around citywide performance management and partnership efforts related to Seattle Center. She will dedicate most of her time and energy to these two major initiatives over the next 17-months.
As a result of these new major priorities for Deputy Mayor Joncas, we will undergo some internal organizational restructuring. Day-to-day operations oversight and coordination between the Mayor’s Office and City Departments will be assigned to the newly designated position of Director of Department Operations, Finance & Administrative Services. Fred Podesta will assume this role and physically relocate to City Hall to become part of the Mayor’s Executive Leadership Team (see attachment). Effective immediately, all members of the Cabinet will report through Director Podesta. Doug Carey will oversee day to day operations at FAS but remain as Deputy Director. A special Cabinet meeting will be scheduled on August 3rd to begin discussions around additional details related to this reorganization.
I am also pleased to announce the hiring of Adrian Matanza as my Deputy Chief of Staff. Adrian will oversee alignment of constituent relations, outreach, scheduling and day-to-day staffing support for the Mayor. Adrian will join us in early September.
Finally, Benton Strong, our new Mayor’s Office Communications Director will officially start on Monday, August 1st.
Murray's other deputy mayor, Hyeok Kim, will continue her role focusing on external relations.
Murray's executive team is now: Ben Noble (budget director), Kate Joncas (deputy mayor), Hyeok Kim (deputy mayor), Mike Fong (chief of staff), Fred Podesta (director of operations), Robert Feldstein (policy director), Ian Warner (legal counsel), Benton Strong (communications director), Tina Walha (innovation team director).