The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Prosser named Iowa’s ‘Manager of the Year,’ but he didn’t tell anybody

In City Hall, Jim Prosser on November 26, 2008 at 10:04 pm


CEDAR RAPIDS — City Hall here now has a communications apparatus that can spit out press releases with the best City Hall flak-catching machines in the nation.

Somehow, though, the operation failed to make note that the Iowa City/County Management Association has named Cedar Rapids City Manager Jim Prosser as the group’s Manager of the Year.

This was back on Sept. 11.

Prosser’s schedule did not permit him to attend the awards event in Council Bluffs, which was part of an Iowa League of Cities’ annual conference, reports Alan Kemp, the League’s executive director.

The management association consists of about 150 city managers, assistant city managers and city administrators and a few county administrators.

The group’s award for top manager is a new one. Prosser is the second recipient.

Tim Vick, city manager in Manchester and a member of the association’s six-member awards committee, said two members of the committee nominated Prosser for the award.

In making the award to Prosser, Vick said the committee noted that Prosser had overseen the successful transition to the city manager government in Cedar Rapids after nearly a century in which the commission form of government was in place in the city.

Vick said the awards committee also took note that Prosser had reorganized city government, had taken city government through a controversy over an idea to sell a piece of the Twin Pines Golf Course and had used what Prosser calls the balanced decision-making process in helping the city recover from the June flood.

The award came to light this week via an anonymous letter to The Gazette. The writer of the letter said Prosser was “too modest” to make public the recognition from his peers.

Is it deja vu all over again? Linn County Board of Supervisors seems an awful lot like the commission government that Cedar Rapids dumped

In City Hall, Linn County government on November 11, 2008 at 12:07 am

It’s on odd view from City Hall, looking on at the coming of a new Linn County government.

What Linn County has embraced — and Cedar Rapids is part of Linn County — looks frighteningly like the government that residents and community leaders in Cedar Rapids spent no little time and effort getting rid of at City Hall in 2005.

Now in place in Linn County are nicely-paid elected officials. They are without any academic credentials in public administration. And there is no professional county manager to run the operation.

Only the new county government has gone one step more: It has added ward politics to the mix.

It is intriguing to reflect on all the time, energy and media coverage that was expended back in 2004 and 2005 before Cedar Rapids residents went to the polls in June 2005 and overwhelmingly discarded the city’s commission form of government in favor of council/manager government.

The commission government featured five, nicely-paid, full-time commissioners –- no public administration credentials needed — who administered departments and sat as a City Council.

In its place now are a part-time mayor and part-time council, paid a modest amount, with a professional city manager. Five of the nine council members are elected by district.

Meanwhile, over at Linn County, all five supervisors are elected by district; they will be paid about $70,000 a year starting in January; and there is no professional county manager helping run the show.

In addition, the supervisors have little to say about much of county government because the auditor, treasurer, recorder, sheriff and county attorney are elected directly by voters and run their own shows.