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April 2011

Billy Tyus gets hugs from friends and family after being named the new assistant city manager for development services in April 2011. 

What a loss for our community.

That was our first reaction to news Monday that Bloomington had hired away Billy Tyus as its new deputy city manager, the No. 2 in municipal government.

A Decatur native, Tyus has been interim city manager here since the departure of Tim Gleason, who this summer headed north for a four-year contract as Bloomington city manager.

The two formed a solid team during Gleason's three-plus years in Decatur. A former police officer, Gleason developed a no-nonsense reputation and was unafraid to tackle contentious issues like a new motor fuel tax and reorganizing city staff.

Tyus, whose community connections are deep, was able to convey goals and initiatives like the neighbor he was. We liked the approach.

When Gleason left, Tyus, 46, filled the interim position, but we were surprised when he didn't seek it in a permanent way, given his ascent in city government. He previously was assistant city manager of development services, assistant city manager for public information, assistant to the city manager and public information officer. We thought he would have made a strong city manager here.

We're left now with more questions than answers regarding the city manager hire. We have been critical of Decatur's process, in which public input has been limited to an online survey.

With Tyus goes 18 years of understanding and experience running this community. The new city manager enters without that person at his or her side, hired without input from the community.

We are concerned about losing steam on issues important to Tyus and Gleason, including the critical neighborhood revitalization effort, which calls for razing vacant buildings and focusing on quality of life issues. This key area has lost a champion.

We thank Tyus for his hard work here. And we challenge our city leadership to find a suitable replacement.

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