Provincetown News and Information

Provincetown town manager Keith Bergman to move on

Published: Wed April 26, 2006
By: Straight Dope in Provincetown > News
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Cape Cod Times | By ERIC WILLIAMS

After 16 years as Provincetown’s town manager, Keith Bergman, known for bow ties, hand-held high-tech devices and creative penny pinching, has announced he will not seek an extension of his contract.

‘’No one holds this job for life,’’ Bergman told the selectmen last night. ‘’And if the average tenure of my 11 predecessors from 1954 to 1989 was three years, then - at more than 16 years - I have already held this job for several lifetimes.’’

The natty Bergman, perhaps the most sartorially splendid town official in Cape history, often lit up meeting rooms with his crisp seersucker suit and sharp mind.

‘’He has my utmost admiration,’’ Provincetown Selectman Richard Olson said last night. ‘’We owe him such thanks for his service to this town.’’

In an interview yesterday afternoon, Bergman said that as of yet he has no concrete plans for his post-

Provincetown days, which will commence in approximately one year, when his contract with the town ends. In fiscal 2005 Bergman earned a little more than $100,000.

‘’I never planned on spending my entire life doing municipal management,’’ said Bergman, 49. ‘’So there may be some other things to explore.

‘’What I want most of all is for there to be a smooth transition,’’ said Bergman, who first slipped on the tasseled loafers of power in Provincetown on March 5, 1990. ‘’We’ve come a long way from the revolving door that this job used to be. Norman Mailer called Provincetown the Wild West of the East. He may have not been talking about the town manager’s job, but in the past it was wild and woolly here.’’

Provincetown Town Manager Keith Bergman checks e-mail on his BlackBerry.
(Staff file photo by Eric Williams)

The raspberry and the ax

When asked why town managers and administrators so often get the raspberry and sometimes even the ax, Bergman replied, ‘’It’s your job to make tough decisions. Every time you make a tough decision someone’s happy, someone’s unhappy. Over time, the number of unhappy people outnumbers the others, and then you get to move on and start with a clean slate. That’s sort of what the dynamic of being a town manager is.’’

Indeed, Bergman himself was mussed up a bit at a recent town meeting as several voters, unhappy with the town’s override dalliance, sought to cut his expense line item. The attempt was overwhelmingly rebuffed by meeting-goers.

Bergman said he is most proud of his work on the successful transfer of Cape End Manor, the beloved town-owned nursing home (which nonetheless strained budgets each year) to the New England Deaconess Association, which plans to build a state-of-the-art adult care campus on the site.

‘’It’s been a privilege for me to work with you,’’ said Selectman Dr. Cheryl Andrews, who misted up a bit as Bergman broke the news that he is leaving.

Blue jeans? Never!

The Bergman swan song was anything but sweet for Truro cartoonist Howie Schneider, who has used the bow-tied, curly-haired manager as the subject for scores of cartoons in Provincetown’s weekly paper.

‘’I’m going with him,’’ vowed Schneider, who also drew the nationally syndicated ‘’Eek & Meek’’ comic strip. ‘’There will never be another like him. It’s the way he carries himself, the way he dresses, the way he prefers to appear in public as someone special, different. I never once saw him in a pair of jeans.’’

During Fantasia Fair, a popular cross-dresser’s weekend, Schneider drew Bergman exiting town hall in frumpy frock; when the town’s fireworks were in doubt, Schneider depicted an alternative celebration: the impeccably garbed Bergman firing a popgun.

Bergman said he and his wife will leave Provincetown once the job is up. Their two daughters will be in college, the big ‘’5-0’’ looms on the horizon, and it’s time for an adventure.

But he won’t forget the cool town at the Cape tip.

‘’God bless Provincetown,’’ said Bergman as he bid adieu to townspeople last night. 


On Sat May 13, 2006, Jim Najafipour wrote:

That was a great article about Keith Bergman.  Jim Najafipour

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