The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Hall's Presence and the Covenant's Future

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The promise of embedding cutting edge fiber technology in the Ranch is so close we can practically touch the transmission of light signals. We are standing on the precipice this week: So close to the future, yet possibly light years away if the RSF Connect project is not approved by voters on Wednesday

We’ve chewed over this topic so exhaustively, we’re practically spitting up cable. But we’re willing to glow in the dark and steer clear of large bodies of water if it means our fellow residents are informed about RSF Connect and get out and vote. 

However, the Sisyphean prize for endless toil in informing the community on RSF Connect is awarded to the Association. This has been years in the making, and the current RSF Connect project has entailed countless meetings, interviews, group presentations, website updates, redesigns, Q&As, information pamphlets, town halls, Board reviews and votes, and my eyes just started to bleed. 

With all this effort, it’s no surprise that our new RSFA Manager, Bob Hall, considers RSF Connect a major focus. Think laser-beam and Schwarzenegger-as-a-cyborg-assassin kind of focus. This is “Oh my stars, we might get running water or indoor plumbing” BIG. 

That said, Mr. Hall makes it very clear that, while much effort has gone into informing the community about RSF Connect, it is his job to remain impartial on the matter. And he means it. Really. When I recently met with Mr. Hall, he has this tranquil Midwest humility and sincerity that you can’t help but admire. 

Brushing up on Bob Hall’s background, I had to ask how he chose what I found to be a rather esoteric calling, “public administration,” as an academic and professional pursuit. His answer? “Baseball.” I was praying this wouldn’t turn into what for me would be a downward spiral of sports analogies, where I’d have to just sit there, eyes glazed over grinning like an idiot, and pretend I understood or was interested.  But what he said made sense. After years of coaching baseball, he needed a job with better benefits. He found that many of the same skills he used as a coach could be applied to managing cities and HOAs. I won’t go on ad nauseam about Mr. Hall’s curriculum vitae accolades, but he clearly was able to achieve great success in other cities with his management style. 

Mr. Hall sees himself as a facilitator and mediator — to remove roadblocks when needed, but otherwise provide just enough guidance and support so that staff get on with what they need to do on their own. My favorite part of this discussion? When he hands me a single card entitled “Nordstrom Employee Handbook.” "Oh no,” I thought. "First, there was the baseball answer and now this from left field?" But, alas, it all made sense yet again. Mr. Hall has kept this single card as a keepsake for decades as a reminder of what good leadership looks like and why it’s successful. He points to the card and reads its simple yet poignant concluding guideline to Nordstrom employees: “Use good judgment in all situations.” That pretty much sums Hall up. 

It's hard to believe that local politics can be even more divisive and challenging than the mudslinging and heel-digging that unravels at our Capitol. It's turned into a cheap McCombo deal, one part dark-suit rodeo and the other that tomato-slinging mess of a festival they do in Spain every summer. (Oh wait, that's not a tomato, it's my child's economic and socio-political future gripped in their hands. Is that Kim Jong-un waving his little fat baby hand at me from a hot air balloon floating over my back garden?) But I’d like to think our community has turned a page and some of our biggest past obstacles may be easier to overcome. The RSF Connect project would be a beautiful start  (Especially when one recalls how bad it got with the Cell Tower Town Hall Meeting. Bring out the rusty razor blades and the scotch!). 

With Bob Hall as a calm, mediating force, along with a diligent and focused Board, and a community that can “kumbaya” its way into overcoming differences and making compromises for the benefit of the whole, I think we can achieve a lot. This week could be the beginning, where we all vote for RSF Connect and take part in Covenant history and its future.