Today is the launch of a blog series we’re calling “Cookingham Connections.” Laurie Perry Cookingham is who some people call the “Godfather of City Management.” He pegged 22 guideposts for city managers to follow—and his suggestions can still be applied today.
Strategic Government Resources (SGR) is partnering with Emerging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) in this project with the hopes of bridging the generation gap in local government. Each week, you’ll read blog posts about one of Cookingham’s 22 guideposts— one through the eyes of a city manager, the other through the eyes of an emerging city management professional.
We hope this blog series will help both sides of the spectrum gain insight that will ultimately cause all to become better leaders.
Below is a brief introduction to this L.P. Cookingham blog series, written by a city manager who learned from Cookingham’s examples.
L.P. “Perry” Cookingham, “the Dean of City Managers,” was a legend in the city management field. If you haven’t read about Mr. Cookingham, he is just a Google search away. He served as a city manager in three Michigan cities in the mid 1920s to 1940.
He spent his most influential years in Kansas City, Missouri from 1940 to 1959 where he rose to national prominence. He then finished his career in Fort Worth, Texas in 1964.
A closer look at Mr. Cookingham’s life and career reveals that he had great insight into the foundation of our profession. His thoughts—as portrayed by newspaper articles, books, speeches, and articles he wrote—demonstrate his acumen on a wide range of issues we all deal with in City Hall.
Mr. Cookingham provides guidance and thoughts on the role and responsibilities of the different players in the municipal landscape; how to harness the varied power centers that exist in all cities to accomplish our work; the need for a manager to grow and change to stay current with the times; the importance and knowledge brought to bear on problems by a truly professional management team; the power of ideas that come from proper and thoughtful analysis; the need to invest in long-range planning; sustaining council/manager relations; the need to treat everyone in the city (friend or foe) with the respect and dignity they deserve; and the list goes on and on.
I encourage you to read the upcoming blog posts and spend some time learning about Cookingham. His example will make us all better managers, and with a bit of luck, maybe “Cookie” (as he was called by his friends) will make us better people along the way.
City Manager, Grapevine, TX