By John McCormack
Omar Easy has had a very eventful career. His accomplishments and careers stretch from NFL running-back, achieving his PhD, vice-principal of Everett High School for five years and finally working in City Hall. Now Easy has a new position and it is something that keeps the former running back on his toes.
“Assess and develop all of our employees, first working with the department heads,” Easy said.
Easy is a part of the Office of Organizational Assessment, which works daily with department heads to ensure that they are getting the most out of every single employee. Easy gives each employee a personality assessment and compared to certain managerial skills, he can find the best fit for each employee.
The focus of these assessments is to make sure the employee is properly trained and can function efficiently, not only now but in the future.
Functioning efficiently in the future is a top priority for the city. With a billion dollar casino to open in June of 2019, the city needs their employees to be ready for the major changes that come with it.
“I have to make sure when we hire people for the future, they are qualified people that can actually get the job done,” Easy said.
“If there’s folks that have been here for 10, 15, 20 years, we’re not necessarily looking to fire anyone, but we want to develop everyone first,” he continued.
However, in the past Easy has faced some backlash and questions about what exactly his office does. City Council members have even tried to defund Easy’s position. Using his former educational skills, Easy wants to use an educational approach to teach the council about what his position does.
“It’s my responsibility to educate them about what my office does,” Easy said.
Easy was neither discouraged nor upset about the council trying to defund his position, instead he was very understanding. Easy and others believe they tried to defund his position because it was a new department and the council did not know what Easy could bring differently to the table.
The City Council called Easy’s position “redundant” because of its similarity to both the Human Resources Department and the Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff represents the mayor when the mayor is not present.
“Chief of Staff is an overarching thing, but my office is basically working the grassroots of things and making sure development is moving up in the right direction,” Easy said.
Easy did not stop there when defending his position. “Human Resources does workers’ compensation … but myself and my office is involved in all that stuff,” he continued.
Easy realizes that working similar tasks with similar departments can cause some overlap. That’s why Easy works hand-in-hand with the Chief of Staff and the Human Resources director to minimize and eliminate duplicate work.
Despite only being in his position since September, Easy has already made some major improvements. Easy and Mayor Carlo DeMaria started the School Finance Task Force. This is a big step forward in educating everybody about school finances and how it works. The team consists of professors, CFO’s of banks and directors of municipal research – to help people understand how school finances work and how to use the school’s budget efficiently.
Through the School Finance Task Force came the School Finance Committee. The committee consists of members of the School Committee and City Council, the Chief of Staff, Easy, and Mayor DeMaria as the chair. The group meets once a month and will continue to do so for the near future.
Tom Philbin, the city’s Director of Communications, praised the idea of the School Finance Committee and how Easy made it possible. “For the first time we have the City Council, School Committee, superintendent, the mayor, the CFO all working together on the biggest budget, and then to help them we have experts in municipal finance – it’s a big deal,” Philbin said.
“It was needed, it’s what communications needed in sharing information and where efficiencies can go hand-in-hand, and Omar brought that all together,” Philbin added.
Working together and having everyone understand how the city’s biggest budget works and operates is essential. Sharing information and communicating is the best way to ensure the school’s budget doesn’t fall beyond like it did a year ago. Last year, the school went through a financial crisis when they overspent a large amount of money.
“The school asked for $10 million to operate for that year, but did they want $10 million or need it?” Easy said.
Easy makes himself different from others who work in City Hall. Most people’s jobs are a day-to-day operation, and they handle issues that come daily. However, Easy’s day-to-day tasks and operations are to look forward towards the future to ensure Everett is in the right step moving forward.
Not only has Easy implemented the School Finance Committee, but he has had a success with moving people around in the city for better success. One of Easy’s first changes was to bring someone from DPW to be present in City Hall full time to answer people’s questions. According to Easy, this has been very successful and has received positive feedback.
Another issue Easy has been passionate about is hiring skilled craftsmen, such as masons, carpenters and plumbers. With hiring more skilled craftsmen, the city does not have to outsource labor work; instead the facilities department does it themselves now.
Easy and his office focus on the futuristic growth of Everett and how its workers can function efficiently and effectively on future projects. Easy has a lot on his hands now that the casino has a due date, and frankly, Easy has a great vision for what the future holds for Everett.