No checks/balances with mayor-council form | Letters | April 24
April 24, 2009 · 8:49 AM
I’ve listened to many of the arguments for keeping our mayoral-council system, and I have yet to hear one that I think makes sense.
For example, proponents of our current system often refer to it as a “checks and balance” system. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike our federal government, our mayor does not offer a check or balance to a powerful council. The mayor has most of the power. He or she directly controls the city staff, without whose cooperation the council is uninformed and impotent.
I have witnessed countless council meetings where city staffers dance, dip and dodge council member’s queries for information. Remember, our council members have no staff of their own – they are entirely reliant on the mayor’s subordinates for information. Without accurate and timely information, our council cannot possibly craft effective policies.
In short, they are entirely at the mercy of the mayor and his or her staff. There is no balance here.
And proponents of our system argue that by removing the elected mayor we will loose accountability for the person in charge of our city’s administration. This assumes that voters are informed enough to know when the mayor has made egregious errors.
While I love our local newspapers, the New York Times they are not. Without aggressive, professional media reporting on our city affairs there can be no real accountability.
The current financial mess were in is the perfect example of this. How many islanders are aware that our mayor has plundered our once healthy reserves and left us on the verge of financial collapse?
And what is every mayoral election anyway but a glorified popularity contest. Is this really the best way to run a city? To me, the council-manager form of government makes good sense.
It makes the head of city hall accountable to the people who matter most – our elected representatives.
And if we don’t like the way things are going, we can still vote the bums out, as my father used to say. I urge you to vote yes for the council-manager government change next month.
Eagle Harbor Drive