PERRY: Kudos for the Aurora city hall guy behind the curtain


There’s a long list of reasons why journalists join the ranks, and a much shorter list of why newspaper types jump ship.

Yeah. It’s all about money.

For some of us, journalism is the thrill of the hunt. For others, it’s the clever turn of a phrase or the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve righted a wrong or exposed something truly remarkable about our world. For most hacks like me, however, it has plenty to do with getting your name in the paper every day.

Sure, many of us profess our deep love for our craft, our communities and the greater good, but it’s a narcissist’s game in the end.

We’re not alone in that field. Cops, politicians, preachers, teachers, docs, athletes and more all have a taste for running the show and being able to take a bow.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little constrained showboating, but I truly admire the professional who selflessly gets stuff done and doesn’t feel the need to sign his work for everyone to see.

Those really amazing quotes signed “anonymous”? What a thinker.

Skip Noe is one of those people. Some of you might have heard his name, but the chances are very good most of you have no idea who he is.

Noe’s the guy who makes sure cops and firefighters come to your house when you call 9-1-1. He makes sure the city can borrow huge sums of cheap money so that the water comes out the kitchen faucet every time you and another several hundred thousand people turn the knob. He’s the guy that takes the heat when the snow-plows don’t show up, when the manholes explode with sewer water, when dogs run loose and traffic backs up.

Noe has been the city manager here in Aurora for the past seven years, and you never even knew it. That’s saying something.

Granted, most folks really don’t even know, or care, how it is that the golf courses stay green and the stop-lights get fixed. I’ll bet most of you don’t know who your city council rep is, or even the mayor of Aurora.

It’s not a big deal. It’s America. We delegate and get back to our lives.

But Noe has been the guy behind the noisy politicians and sometimes blustery cops. He writes lists, solves big problems and makes running a huge and complicated city look pretty easy.

He was the guy you never knew that helped Aurora keep it together after the 2012 theater massacre. He quietly made it so the President, an army of journalists and thousands upon thousands of victims and onlookers could get through an unspeakable catastrophe.

Noe is the guy who modestly helped carry out a plan that was the economic coup of our lifetime as Aurora snatched a trophy Gaylord convention center away from Denver, Colorado Springs and a handful of greedy states.

Unlike blowhards like me, Noe has quietly and efficiently seen to it that the potholes do, indeed, get filled, the elevators get inspected and bathrooms at Del Mar Park get cleaned.

Of course Noe receives a very handsome six-figure-plus-so-much-more salary for his trouble. And there’s been plenty of trouble managing about 3,000 employees and taking orders from 11 city council bosses and 370,000 or so tax-paying supervisors.

It’s a tired meme saying that the average lifespan of a city manager is about seven years, and it’s entirely true. As the magic number crept closer for Noe, a near-majority of city council wanted him out. It wasn’t because the streets weren’t cleaned or the city’s credit rating went south, it was because almost half of the city council didn’t like Noe pushing back when they crossed what he saw were the boundaries of an elected official.

He was accused of being a chauvinist and a bully. I never saw it. In talking with a few dozen people who worked closely with him, they never saw it either. And so for the past two years, what I’m assuming was an honest perception about Noe became an albatross that he wore pretty well, with a touch of class.

But for the most part, he would fade back from the limelight, making things happen and making it seem that it just turned out that way.

There’s plenty of room for improvement. I still can’t ride my bike up Peoria. And for a city with almost 700 cops, you’d think one or two could find time to snag a few ass hats on the Aurora 225-Autobahn at least once in a while. But Noe leaves Aurora much bigger and much better than he found it. So here’s to getting your name in the paper, Skip. Go ahead, take a bow.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]