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Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

Full-time mayor

April 22, 2006

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To the editor:

When I first moved from Southern California to Lawrence in 1992, I thought it rather strange for a growing city such as Lawrence to have part-time commissioners. And, low and behold, a part-time mayor selected by the part-time commissioners. After just a short time, I realized that the city was run by a full-time city manager!

I do appreciate the dedication of our city commissioners and city staff, but I believe Lawrence would best be served by a full-time mayor. Our present system of part-time commissioners and a strong city manager is undemocratic in that it relies heavily on an unelected, powerful bureaucrat guided by commissioners with little or no incentive to be responsive to the citizens.

Adding a full-time mayor to our system would be a dramatic shift to democracy. A full-time mayor would be significantly more responsive to the citizens and at the same time weaken the influence of the city staff to an appropriate level. The city commissioners would serve as advisers to the mayor and as a check on unreasonable exercises of authority.

Let's do away with part-time mayors and then Lawrence will be in step with the world's march to democracy.

Ed White,

Lawrence

Comments

Jamesaust 8 years, 8 months ago

"...relies heavily on an unelected, powerful bureaucrat guided by commissioners with little or no incentive to be responsive to the citizens."

Well...except (as we've all recently learned) he/she serves at the discretion of the elected officials.

"Our present system ... is undemocratic...."

Well...so is electing a mayor/dictator. The only "democratic" solution is to gather the population of Lawrence together every here-and-then and debate and vote on issues. [That's 17,438 in favor, 2,466 opposed, with 89 abstaining, and 38,599 who didn't show up!]

No one, including this author, has yet explained precisely what a separately-elected mayor would do other than dimish the power of the commissioners and provide one more source of contention among the various players in city government.

As most city decisions are managerial in nature and not political, I believe injecting a SINGLE, vitually all-powerful point-of-view into the mix is just asking for dysfunction. That electing a virtual monarch is sold as "democratic" is silly.

People who want a single person "to be accountable" are the same people who never understand how it is that they and their buddies see things all one way but mysteriously the rest of the electorate doesn't. Perhaps they just need to meet with more diverse people than their daily 'coffee crew'.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 8 months ago

I think the writer might be running up against KU's nationally-ranked public administration program, which is a strong advocate of the "city manager" style of government.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 8 months ago

What Lawrence needs worse than a full time mayor is the ability to attract the proper mix of light industrial excellent paying employment that will rein in the 12,000-15,000 commuters. This will impact our property taxes in a positive manner and will be good for downtown retail.

New retail cannot replace the need for the variety of excellent paying jobs that light industrial brings with it.

fletch 8 years, 8 months ago

The City Manager style of government is actually the most popular form of government for mid-sezed cities (50,000-150,000) in the U.S. It ensures that day-to-day operations are controlled by a trained professional instead of a myriad of elected officials that don't understand certain processes. The Commission sets policy for the city and the Manager executes policy. It's one of the most democratic forms of government out there, an dit really helps curb abuses of powers.

The only thing that could possibly help our current model is for the commissioners to be elected by 5 districts, instead of citywide elections. But that might lead to cronyism and territorial disputes, so even that's not perfect.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 8 months ago

Let's do away with the county commission and elect 9 commissoners from different districts. This way they won't work against each other and maybe we can get out property tax situation resolved.

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