Commentary: Roeder has truly earned his way to retirement

When Allan Roeder announced his retirement several weeks ago, it was like a punch in the gut to many of us in Costa Mesa who have admired him and his work for years.

Over three dozen years with the city, including the last 25 as city manager, he created an atmosphere of professionalism, competence and service throughout City Hall.

More than simply a "boss," he has been a teacher and mentor to many who have worked with him. He showed them the way, nurtured them and led by example.

And, as the cherry on the top of the sundae, he is a very nice man.

We've watched him as he "managed" council meetings with expertly timed observations and "advisements" — Roeder's word — to the council members.

We've seen many instances of him reaching over to deftly grab the tiller on our ship of state to keep the council from taking the city over the falls.

We've seen him, year after year, tell the council that the use of "fund balance" was not a budget strategy but, rather, a consequence of not making difficult decisions.

We've seen those observations and his recommendations to fix the problems ignored year after year by a variety of councils for a variety of reasons, which has finally brought us to our current situation.

In other circumstances this would be a time of great celebration, a time to honor the man who has given his entire professional life to this city. It would be a time to carry him out the door on our shoulders, showering him with rose petals as the crowds cheered. That would be an appropriate celebration.

However, in the most egregious possible bit of timing, the new City Council — as it plans to disassemble one of the strongest, most competent and professional staffs in the county — seems determined to have Roeder walk out the doors of City Hall for the final time while it implodes behind him.

I'm sure he hoped to leave behind the legacy of a staff that would continue to perform at the highest levels due to the guidance he provided and the example he set. Now that staff is waiting for the proverbial "other shoe" to drop — to see who, besides the initial 200 or so staffers that received layoff notices this week, will be next on the chopping block.

I have no doubt that those who remain will do their best to maintain the high standards Roeder set and continue to work hard for the residents of Costa Mesa, although it's difficult to keep your nose to the grindstone when you're looking over your shoulder, waiting for someone to hand you a pink slip.

As I have done many times privately in the past, today I want to thank Allan Roeder for his dedication to this city for all these years.

Arguably the best city manager in the county — maybe anywhere — he has set the bar high for those who follow him. At a time when some have tried to make the word "pension" an epithet, I can think of no person in our city who has done more to earn his pension and who deserves to have a safe, comfortable retirement than Roeder.

Thank you, Allan. You gave us your best every single day of your career and many of us appreciate it.

Costa Mesa resident GEOFF WEST publishes A Bubbling Cauldron, a blog on local issues. The Daily Pilot asked him to contribute a piece to Roeder's going-away package.

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