The city council faces its most decisive moment in years when it meets to decide whether or not City Manager Jay Ash stays or goes.
Ash is being sought by the Deval Patrick Administration to head the state’s most important development agency, MassDevelopment.
The administration wants Ash because of his success in Chelsea and the skills he has shown here as an administrator and developer. He fits almost exactly the pro forma for the important state job that would take Ash away from this city.
That tells us something powerful about Ash that most of us already know, and frankly, have understood for years.
His presence in Chelsea has caused this city to become the example of how a municipality should be managed. At the same time, with extraordinary savvy, Ash has brought development here of all kinds that any successor would be hard pressed to match.
In addition, Ash has shown the personal largesse and an understanding of human nature at all times that has allowed this city’s competing constituencies and numerous ethnic populations to work together and to live together in peace and harmony.
Ash is above reproach. In ten years as city manager he has exhibited stellar human qualities – honesty and integrity, chief among them.
There is general agreement all around in every quarter of the city among those stakeholders and leaders who understand exactly what Ash’s continued extraordinary leadership means to our city.
These are the reasons Governor Patrick wants him.
These are the reasons we need him to stay.
Jay Ash must not be allowed to leave this city. To that end, the city council must quickly convene and decide on a plan of action to make certain that he remains.
Ash is not driven by the money and yet it is a raise that would bring him to $200,000 that the council is expected to offer that will prove to him how badly the city wants him to stay.
We would endorse such a salary for Ash in this instance. He deserves it. He has earned it.
Ash would be worth every penny of $200,000 annually. This is what the state will be willing to give him.
Only he can do what has been done. Only he can continue the development work that is already underway. Only he can move into the future hatching new development projects while at the same time administering the city with skill and an unusually high level of interest.
He is a one of a kind who comes along once in a great while.
Ash leaves and this city faces a brave new world.
Mind you, the city will not collapse if he leaves. The city will survive.
It simply won’t face the solid, steady, solvent economic future it is staring at with him in place.
Those of us who know the checkered history of this city understand unequivocally how important Jay Ash is to the future success he can achieve here.
His proven work ethic, his proven integrity, his proven ability to bring development here and to keep this a city a place where everyone gets along is worth more than we can afford to pay him.
Two hundred thousand is not too much to keep him here.
He should be offered that salary and then he should be made to sign the contract – and then we can all sigh a breath of relief and get on with the business of the city and its future, which will be well in hand.