We knew him well.
And shall miss him as well.
But we come not to bury Vito Tedeschi -- but to praise him.
We're speaking, of course, about the Star Valley town manager, who quit his post abruptly and cleaned his desk quickly -- but deserves long and lingering praise for the great work he did in the past two years to put Star Valley on a solid footing.
Unfortunately, being town manager is a pretty thankless job.
Town managers know this: it's built into the job description. That's because they have to run the organization, without ever distracting public attention from their bosses -- the elected town council. But while the town councilors collect the headlines -- a good town manager keeps the place running day in and day out, often muddling quietly along as councils come and councils go.
Tedeschi has spent his whole life in public service at an array of different towns. He was lured out of retirement by the challenge of building a town government from scratch.
He rose to that challenge -- and has a lot to brag on as a result of his service to the residents of Star Valley.
He hired a competent and efficient town staff. He juggled the egos and shifting priorities on the town council with humor and candor. He kept a tight reign on expenses, while still providing basic services through a combination of a shoestring town staff and contracts.
He maintained cordial relationships with officials in other jurisdictions, even when council members were having very public arguments.
He managed the debut of photo traffic ticket stations that have played a key role in town finances. He helped set the stage for the development of a general plan that will pattern development for years to come.
But mostly, he made his mark in a hundred little ways -- that make the difference between an efficient and accessible organization and a wasteful bureaucracy. Tedeschi had a knack for finding the useful corner to cut, approaching problems from a fresh perspective -- and for keeping things in perspective with a wry comment and a well-timed shrug.
We're reminded, for instance, of the time he came to the town council to report that the bids for chip sealing some streets had come in at roughly double the estimates, due to the runup in oil prices. So he recommended the council reject the bids and send him back to negotiate.
The next time the issue came to the council, Tedeschi had figured out how to get the bid down below the original estimate -- by changing the job requirements slightly and scheduling the work so that the town crews and the contractor could get it all done more efficiently.
The circumstances of Tedeschi's decision to resign are a trifle murky -- but came in the wake of the council's decision to reject some creative but perhaps premature property leases he'd negotiated, in an effort to acquire needed town facilities at the lowest possible cost.
After some rough handling of the recommendation, Tedeschi decided maybe retirement wasn't such a bad lifestyle after all.
We hope that Tedeschi will luxuriate in his retirement -- and in the sure knowledge of a job well done.
We'll miss you, Vito.
Be careful out there ...