Council-manager is a step upward | Letters | April 17
April 16, 2009 · Updated 4:15 PM
The May 19 ballot is evidence that the community is looking for political renewal and wants to reconsider the choice we made when the city incorporated in 1991. Washington State law, recognizing the need for communities to address their own traditions and values, provides a choice between mayor-council and council-manager plan.
The mayor-council plan follows the tradition of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch and subscribes to a concept of creative debate. The council-manager plan follows the tradition of a business corporation. Its concept is to remove the administration from politics. Each plan has arguments for and against.
Governance is a process that links policy setting, management and the job to be done. Good governance exists when citizens feel that the process is working, that resources are used wisely and the city is able to weather crises. Some years ago the Bainbridge Resource Group adopted a set of principles that its members consider basic to good governance. The BRG offers them here as we collectively search for political renewal.
1. Transparency: Citizens feel ownership of the city’s activities. There is free exchange of information and public records are easily accessible. Meetings and activities are widely advertised and open. Records of proceedings and activities are available and they are in a format that enables citizens to understand and monitor what’s happening.
2. Accessibility: Citizens are able to communicate with the organization. They have a voice in the decision-making process and they know whom to contact. There is mediation of different interests and consensus building about what’s in the best interest of the community.
3. Accountability: Council, CEO and staff of the city show a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. All levels hold themselves accountable for the effectiveness of their actions.
4. Effectiveness: Council, CEO and staff evaluate city operations for specific outcomes in terms of relevance to long-term community priorities, costs and benefits. Citizens have an understanding of the organization’s planning, budgeting, implementation and timelines.
5. Efficiency: The city uses its resources effectively in all its operations and it has a control system by which it regularly reviews those operations. The city coordinates its operations and activities with other municipal agencies in order to increase those efficiencies.
The Bainbridge Resources Group hopes these five principles may prove useful as the community reevaluates our form of government prior to casting ballots on May 19.
Hidde Van Duym
Bainbridge Resource Group