Michael “Jake” Johansson


hank4….Johansson said in the council interviews that he subscribes to a “trust but verify” form of management, and sees citizen participation as a “necessary evil” of leadership, elaborating that he tends toward what he describes as “strategic communication.”…
I applaud Mr. Johansson for promising a “trust but verify” form of management.
I ask Mr. Johansson to explain his idea of “strategic communication”.
I ask  Mr. Johansson to clarify with the hope that he will correct his perspective of “citizen participation as a necessary evil”.
I call upon city council members to publicly declare that they do not consider citizen participation “evil”.
I once had asked city council members to publicly distance themselves from Mayor Green’s declaration on Public TV that a citizen who wants to keep taxes down is not a good citizen.  No city council member obliged me, in any way whatsoever, in disagreeing with the Mayor on his statement.
This new declaration about citizen participation being evil will not be tolerated and will not stand with me.  If there is no clarification on this most asinine statement, either by Mr. Johansson or the city council I will not forget and use the city’s council acceptance of such an undemocratic notion against them.
I am one who has some limited citizen participation in Port Orange City politics and government, and I resent being included in the group as some kind of evil participation.  Get the statement that has been written in Mr. Johansson governmental bible deleted.
Sincerely, Hank Springer
Posted 1009am 7 12 15

FordReply from Bob Ford Port Orange City Council
Hank, During the interview with Mr. Johansson I did ask him about citizen activists, and citizen participation.
I think that he made a poor choice of words with “necessary evil” — what he told me was that Citizen participation is often difficult to deal with, exhausts a lot of time, effort and energy of city officials …. however he concluded that it was necessary and made in the end for a better government and better outcomes.
What he also noted that with positive strategic communication — providing all the necessary information on a project etc. well in advanced and in sufficient detail and having earlier preliminary discussions with the public, much of the hostility and negatives that occurs in some citizen participation could be avoided.

hank4Hank back to Bob Ford:

Thank you Bob for clarification of this issue.

It does sound better with your clarification of the new city manager’s comments.

I think it was also unfortunate for the new city manager to use the adjective “strategic” communication.

We have seen “strategic” communication about bad issues in the past, two of such incidents come immediately to mind, and both involved issues of citizens’ tax money.  I will not at this time subject us all to old news unless requested.

I must reject any complaints about the time and energy spent on answering questions from citizens.  If information is presented in a timely manner to both the city council and the public, there would be no need for probing questions and requests.

It is expected that the city manager of Port Orange will honor all freedom of information requests from the public and will do so without lamenting the time and energy spent in complying with the laws of this state.

The city manager is not elected, is hired by the city council, and reports to the city council.  Any shortcomings incurred by the city manager should be shared by the city council.

It is not ignored by me, that among certain interests in the city of Port Orange, the short lived tenure of some city managers and administrators is a result of citizen participation in monitoring city administrative performance.  Such a resentment of that kind of citizen participation will be watched closely by me, and for the sake of my 700 daily readers on my web site, I hope that I will have not to address this issue of resentment towards “activists” again.  I find it academically and administratively condemning to not welcome “negative” criticism.  Much of the negative criticism which has come to city hall has been based on facts, which city managers have found annoying to have to prepare to people who generally have “negative” criticism of the past and the present.  There not only has to be a reform in city operations, there needs to be a reform in the culture of Port Orange Politics and operations.

This is not about me, but I tell this story for the edification of the public.  A certain City Councilman probably thought I should be impressed that he came to my house and lied to me about what was said at a meeting of councilmen which was not recorded by the city manager. Such dishonesty no longer sits well with people who are interested in governmental and political efforts. It sits well with me that you Bob Ford did honestly tell me that you at said meeting did speak out kind of “passionately” about not trying to stifle negative criticism.  (This issue can wrongly be deflected into an issue of discussing negative comments on a poorly designed internet survey.)  I know the difference between stifling negative comments, and addressing the details of the comments.  I have all too well seen the organized opposition to our “activists”, and such activities have proven to me that not all is well in Port Orange administration and City politics.

This is the way it is, and it is what it is.  Some beat down Ted Noftall, Mark Schaefer, the Gardiners, and maybe Newton White and perhaps these individuals do provide negative criticism to the city council  and the city manager.  Let the new city manager understand that a few interested citizens now closely scrutinize his work performance . I applaud you Bob Ford for replying to me and allowing me to engage in a conversation which I think should be important to all citizens of Port Orange. I for one have been enraged by some who have laid the blame for what is wrong about Port Orange to Bob Ford as city councilman and Ted Noftall being vocal. I might be able to tolerate “mistakes” if they are acknowledged and corrected.

Foremost for me is honest communication and not strategic communication. Others probably more reasonable have an interest in mismanagement of financial affairs.  I too am vexed why the city needs my tax money to hire a consultant to help the financial director (who I believe has a salary of over $100,000 a year) complete the yearly financial report on a timely basis.

Thank you Bob for responding and I appreciate your clarification.

  It distresses me to proclaim such a feeble warning from a guy who has a web site, that he is not sure the new city manager will work out well.  Already he speaks like a protégé of the old guard. I know it is considered well-mannered politics not to be associated with negative comments about other city council people, but let me be real.  There is an internal fight between those who want city reform and those allied with special financial interests who do not relish real reform. If anyone needs to understand such a political culture just see the POG TV series where a former mayor lauds a certain reporter who did not report to the public a criminal scandal in Port Orange City Hall.

I am glad you Bob Ford are there on city council, and I hope Ted Noftall can join you next year on the city council.

The best to you and family.

Sincerely Hank Springer


  • July 13, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Hank — Now…. if there was only some way to keep Mayor Green from turning our new City Manager to the dark side, by turning him into another one of his political prostitutes.

  • July 13, 2015 at 11:26 am

    The only evil citizen participation I have seen lately is the surly Mrs. Griffith. A person to whom is fed by my tax dollars and yet is aloud to stand at the podium and babble an odious speech about my next Mayor’s name. Does she and her family find this to be appropriate in chambers?

  • July 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Strategic Communication vs. Communication
    As we reported on this blog, CommGAP organized an Executive Course in Communication for Governance earlier this month. The communication part of the course was characterized as “strategic communication” – which made me wonder what, exactly, strategic communication is, how it is relevant for our work, and whether it’s different from “communication” per se. A faculty member from the course pointed us to an article by Hallahan et al., titled “Defining Strategic Communication,” which states that “strategic communication” is “the purposeful use of communication by an organization to fulfill its mission.” The purposeful use of communication makes it “strategic.” The authors elaborate that : “Six relevant disciplines are involved in the development, implementation, and assessment of communications by organizations: management, marketing, public relations, technical communication, political communication, and information/social marketing campaigns.” Although the authors see strategic communication as “an emerging paradigm,” this clarification defines strategic communication as a set of tools, not as a discipline. Marketing, public relations etc. themselves are no disciplines, but approaches drawn from broader fields, such as economics and communication.
    Although the purposeful use of communication – strategic communication – is highly relevant for development, this approach alone is not sufficient to understand the breadth, depth, and wealth of communication as it affects development and reform effectiveness. Looking back on almost 15 years spent in higher education programs for communication, the disciplines that I broached are sociology, political science, psychology, and philosophy. Issues from those four fields that deal with any form of transmission of any kind of information to or from human beings seem to be extracted and put together to make up the discipline of “communication.” Take, for instance, public opinion research. Today it’s one of the core fields in communication, but it touches upon and derives from:
    •Psychology: How are individual opinions formed? How does information of any kind transform into opinions and how are those opinions used by people? What happens in people’s heads when opinions are formed?
    •Sociology: Which group processes transform individual opinions into what we call public opinion, the predominant opinion of a specific group with regard to a specific issue?
    •Political science: What role does public opinion play in, for instance, elections? What effects does public opinion have on policy making? On political decision making?
    •Philosophy: Public opinion as understood in the classic theories is not an empirical phenomenon. It becomes an issue of philosophy when we understand it as a societal force and therefore as a matter of knowledge, ethics, morals, reality, language etc. (I leave the elaboration of public opinion as a matter of philosophy up to more knowledgeable people.)
    My point is this: while strategic communication has become a buzzword in some areas, it by far does not cover the relevance and meaning of “communication” per se. Communication for development, or for governance, goes way beyond public relations, marketing, and information campaigns. It’s about what happens in people’s heads, what happens in social groups, what happens in political systems, and what happens to our reality. I assume that people who don’t see communication as a core issue of development see only the strategic, instrumental, campaign side to it. But it goes so much beyond that. It’s about the glue that makes our society, it’s about what drives us, what drives politics – it’s about people. And what else is development about?

  • July 13, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Hank–Thanks for pointing out the absurdity of citizen participation being considered a “necessary evil.” Doesn’t our very form of government stem from the notions of a participatory democracy bounded by law? This was presumably the form of government that Johansson was in the military to protect and we might do well to remind him that even though we are “just citizens” we are also very “active.”
    His comment about “strategic communication” is very troublesome. Wonder what his strategies (plans of action designed to accomplish specific goals) will be when he communicates? The last three managers have all tried to say as little of substance as possible in public while pushing their own agendas in private. Sounds like Jake might fit right in.
    Bob–He’s a big boy and doesn’t need you as an apologist. He said what he said.
    Mike Gardner
    618 Ruth St
    Port Orange, FL 32127

    • July 13, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Mike, in Bob’s defense he did make an attempt to distance himself from the connotations of the new manager’s comments as I had requested of city council members. It is possible that Mr. Johansson will reply to the issue on his own behalf. I did not have an e mail address for Mr. Johannson and I can fully expect that he is busy packing up his family to relocate to Port Orange.
      The information from Civlian Citizen is noteworthy. Here again I think it is unfortunate that a word like “Strategic” is placed into an issue in which many citizens wold like to see “timely and honest” communication. “Strategic” is an adjective widely used by military, politicians and chess players. It is an apt term for goals and missions which have opponents. And thus, it is a term that is better used in the scheme of “them against us” scenarios, and the need for “team players”. The comments of the new city manager as quoted by the News Journal seem to cater to the elite in Port Orange who resent citizen involvement in city government and politics. Although Mr. Johansson works primarily for the city council, the city council is represented by him in his public statements, and I would think for cooperation with citizens and our so called democratic process that the city council would like to see and should direct the new city manager not to use terms which denote a perception of unecessary hardship in letting citizens have a say in its affairs. If the very active group of citizens and those interested in Port Orange reform had been handled differently, with honest fact finding communication, there would be little of this “them against us” and “team player” type of strategic communication. When and if it is true, that the activist group “pushed first” (my words) city politics should not have pushed back, in conjunction with a prior city manager. It was not the best strategic communication to use, and I hold fault city politicians who had the power and tools to not allow citizen participation become a “them against us” contest. The real issue is who owns city government? I offer that citizens own Port Orange, not the chamber of commerce, developers or the Green family. If it is otherwise than what I prefer, then please let those people and groups become investors in the city of port orange by paying all the taxes and then they can tell tax payer citizens to go to hell.
      I suggest that the city council look for ways to placate the citizen activists. This will become a big issue in how the candidates and chamber of commerce will look upon Ted Noftall’s candidicy for Mayor of Port Orange. A significant number of chamber of commerce members came out to wage war with Bob Ford because Ted Noftall supported Bob Ford’s re-election to the city council seat. I venture to say that both Ted and I, and I suppose others, are not in full agreement with all of Bob’s decisions as a city councilman. I for one understand that not every decision by the city council will meet my approval, and on the otherhand, city council need to accept that negative criticism and investigative probes come with the job. No matter how wearisom, distatesful, disagreeable, time and energy consumptive, the people have a right to disagree and express dissatisfaction. Expressing such negative criticism can wrongly be described as rude and disrespectful, when in reality it is bold, harsh and hard hitting. No one is being fooled by blaming Ted Noftall for all the city’s “mistakes”. That’s old time political strategy which no longer flies,
      Bob Ford is his own man and goes his own way. I offer to say that I full believe he is his own man, and have spoken to him about three of his decisions which I did not agree with. But Bob can live with me disagreeing with him, and I might go out on the limb that Ted too has disagreed with Bob. To keep it just, I should remind myself that I should not speak for Bob and Ted, but that is how I see it.
      We are all individuals, and what at stake many times in these issues is to keep our individuality by expressing our opinions.
      I also venture to say, that for all candidates who will be involved in the next city election, I warn that if we are aware of national politics, there is an ugly mood out there. I also admit, that I too have been guilty of joining the “them us against” way of thinking. But and I repeat But. I am not an elected leader who looks for team players. I am not a mayor who looks upon tax payers as “investors” . I will say it again: In targets super store you are termed a “guest” and I reject that notion and demand that I be treated as a customer with rights as a consumer.
      I could go on and on, and I am working on this fault of mine. LOL , thank you Mike for your thoughts and all that you have been doing while actively involved with city politics and city functions. –sincerely hank

  • July 13, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks for my daily laugh! It didn’t take long for the new Manager to ruffle some feathers.
    Let’s see. Hank can’t decide what side of the street to stand on, and whether to kiss Bob’s rear end or smack it.
    Bob finds himself in the immediate need to defend, apologize for and hold the hand of his new champion for Port Orange less than 48 hours into this venture.
    Mike, who seems most reasonable here, realizes that first impressions, as with first statements, are generally the most accurate.
    And not sure where our boy Ted is, but all he has done for months is cry for anything but the typical “ICMA re-tread” or “ICMA Hack”, as he calls them, to be hired. Well, looks like he got what he wished for, so let’s see how it works out for him.
    Well, this should be interesting to watch.

    • July 13, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Sorry to have kept you in suspense ” Didn’t tale long ” but I am delighted that my arguments disparaging the excuse prone ICMA prevailed in this instance AND the search firm forwarded the resume of an accomplished individual fully capable of managing Port Orange who has not spent his career paying homage to the self serving ICMA.
      I am even more pleased Council heeded those same arguments and selected Jake Johansson to be the next Manager of Port Orange.
      I would bet right about now you and a bunch of you good old anonymous boys down on the farm are plenty worried about what I would assume is a pretty low tolerance for bulls#it on the part of Michael ‘Jake’ Johansson, Captain USN ( Ret) .
      Ted Noftall
      Candidate for Mayor
      City of Port Orange -2016

  • July 13, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    The statement from the newly hired CM regarding these so called activists being a necessary evil is the funniest thing and most spot on thing I’ve heard in a long time. I hope these “people” have finally met their match and he takes none of their crap (including Fords). I hope he gives them all the consideration they deserve which is none at all.
    Unfortunately, it’s all doubtful, as the man isn’t even here yet and these nuts have already started. If the new CM is as intelligent as he seems to be, he’ll get out before he starts and their fangs and claws really come out. And you wonder why no one wants to work for this mess of a City.

  • July 13, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Looks like Ted may have spoken to soon, or not done his homework. Mr. Johansson has in fact been an ICMA member since 2013. I am betting he has been to many ICMA training programs, conferences and will be mentored by other City Managers that are well versed in the ICMA way of management. Looks like more of the same for ole Ted!

  • July 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Looks like staff got their first taste of Capt Johansson’s lack of tolerance for incompetence. Staff gave Johanasson a computer to answer some of Burnette’s questions and the computer did not work.
    Jonanasson let the the nearest department head know exactly how he felt about that kind of performance.
    I have a sneaky feeling a few more overpaid incompetents will be looking for new jobs later this fall.

    • July 23, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      I watched the interview with Mr. Johansson and don’t think he said citizen activists are a necessary evil. It was more like people disagreeing with your decisions or not liking the way you do things is a necessary evil of leadership. He is correct . Anyone that has been in a position of leader ship knows that comes with the job. I also liked his comments about bringing people up through the ranks to leadership roles. I know utilities would have been better served if they had promoted a certain couple of employees to Dept. Head and assistant Dept. Head instead of what we are currently saddled with.


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