FOUNDATIONS OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
The MOVE Disaster
Jack H. Nagel
Quality leadership is a telling sign of a successful organization. When given the opportunity to guide or direct others, a leader is capable of drawing individuals or groups together to accomplish certain goals. Given the responsibility to address a problem that had developed over a span of many months concerning a cult (an unorthodox or misguided group of extremist) called MOVE, newly elected Philadelphia Mayor, Wilson Goode did not exercise his authority as the elected leader by working meticulously with the other city officials and offices to shut down MOVE operations and protect the city’s residents from their presence. His inaction caused tragic results in which eleven people died. Wilson Goode’s failure as a leader in this situation is significant to the understanding of the characteristics of high-quality leadership due to the belief that prior to this tragic situation, Goode had demonstrated good leadership choices in other not so tense situations. There were certain factors internal and external that led to his downfall.
Initially, Wilson Goode came into the mayoral office having been described as an “effective manager, a rising star of national politics, and a symbol of hope for his city” (Stillman, 2005. p. 235). His actions worked consistently towards peacemaking and conciliation. According to Nagel, he had been appointed Managing Director for the city of Philadelphia, put in charge of “ten operating departments” and was credited for a massive home building project that produced as much housing or more than was built by the actual city’s housing agencies themselves (Stillman, 2005, p. 237). Goode considered himself to be a “hands-on” type of manager and generally worked hard at knowing personally everything that transpired in his operating departments. As Mayor of a large city such as Philadelphia, Goode’s mode of management...