Mayor Apologizes to Police Chief for 'Misunderstanding'

Jeff Scrima says he wasn't trying to cram "religious code" into Waukesha government.

Mayor Jeff Scrima issued an e-mail on Tuesday to Police Chief Russell Jack—copied to all executive staff at City Hall and aldermen—apologizing for the "apparent misunderstanding" that led to the controversy surrounding a book the mayor asked department heads to read.

The e-mail also says the controversial book, Sequencing: Deciphering Your Company's DNA will not be required reading for department head meetings and asks city staff to suggest other alternatives to the book.

The mayor, in the e-mail provided by Scrima to Waukesha Patch, did not apologize for making public comments about the police chief. Scrima told a reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that "the hypocrisy is glaring," according to a news article published Monday online.

“I just find it interesting that our police department has a chaplain,” Scrima told Waukesha Patch. “… One could certainly ask why aren’t our tax dollars paying for a Muslim chaplain or an atheist chaplain.”

City department heads were asked to read the book Sequencing - Deciphering Your Company’s DNA, written by Michael Metzger, and discuss the material in the book.

Jack questioned the book because of a separate religious code written by the book’s author, Michael Metzger, that is used to interpret the book for Christian reasons.

“I am a devoted WELS Lutheran, but I don't believe it is legally appropriate to bring these ideas into a department director's meeting,” Jack said in an e-mail to the mayor.

Here is the mayor's e-mail, which apologizes for the misunderstanding.

I apologize for the apparent misunderstanding about the purpose of reading Sequencing – Deciphering Your Company’s DNA.  My intent was clearly not to cram some “religious code” into the organization.

The book is gaining traction across the country with numerous community leaders and business leaders as something that speaks to the culture of organizations – something current organizational development books don’t address well.  The crux of the book is in the understanding of perspective, how that effects innovation and performance in an organization, and the important of having a “roundtable” for a department – who are those individuals that can fill the four roles for a department? And why is this important?

Let’s not miss the point. The point is that the city must find $1.5 million in cost savings from its budget to compensate for the expected short-fall in state funding.  

This problem can only be solved by first understanding the impediments to innovation –  what is it that is holding each department back from being all that it’s capable of being for the good of the City, it’s citizens, at the lowest possible cost?  This effort is not only a departmental effort but also a cross departmental effort.  How can each department provide excellent service to its citizens with fewer financial resources?  You each are experts in your field – think hard amongst your fellow department directors, challenge them, and support one another.  Who are those on your team that can challenge your thinking without repercussion?  Who best is capable of envisioning work flow efficiencies? Who best can handle the natural tension that will develop with employees as the necessary changes are made?  Who are the doers of your department?

As a group, we can lay out a base timeline for each to report back to the City Administrator and the group as to idea generation for cost savings.  Together we can state a deadline that the cost savings must be (sic) indentified that aligns with the state funding cuts.  The City Administrator will lead the effort on $1.5 million in cost savings.

Remember, this is about finding $1.5 million is cost savings – that’s the problem the city is trying to solve and it will require the cooperation of all to find those savings.

The Sequencing book reading will not be required for Directors meetings. As an alternative, I would like to suggest the directors come up with a book to read that would assist us in communication, teamwork, creativity and meeting our goal of $1.5 million in cost savings.

Jeff Scrima

Mayor, City of Waukesha

201 Delafield Street

Waukesha WI 53188


Laurie Czerwinski April 30, 2011 at 10:49 PM
I thought that is real interesting; the book is about "perspective" ; I'm sure your misunderstanding is because it was non-familiar...we had to take some kind of "manager's training" and, on workgroups for a reception security job I had. I thought it was interesting because it is ironic that I am first now having to read important thoughts about government by Thoreau in which the average person is far from the control of government that is, sometimes Thoreau says it can be "rude and impetuous"..but even more interesting is the fact that at the same time, the officials in government have to be tough in order to be ready for serious action,keep everybody in line, while keeping a steady job and remaining cool. Here is something you might find interesting from Thoreau: "Confucius said "If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are the subjects of shame"(Henry David Thoreau, 1849).


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