CITY GOVERNMENT CAN PLAN TOO MUCH, DO TOO LITTLE
By Chuck Swore
March 20, 2009
When we changed the form of government in Cedar Rapids we voted for the COUNCIL Manager form. Not the MANAGER Council form. Today our City Manager is the city’s CEO not the COO as designed. I certainly do not blame Jim Prosser for taking the leadership role by default.
I do hope the future will bring us a restructuring of our local government’s function. The result of the continuous research and investigation of every issue before any action can be taken is not productive. Everything must be cleared by the legal department before proceeding: Don’t make any mistakes; make certain we are right before we move ahead; follow the step-by-step process as laid out by the City Manager and you will always be safe.
Unfortunately, you will get very little done in a timely way. “Ready. Fire. Aim.” I think this is being used by Jim Prosser as he preps the council for their next assignment. The council needs to insist on initiating ideas of its own. I would much prefer that the council be 12-3 rather than 3-0. “Perfect is the enemy of good.” If you are not making any mistakes chances are you are DOING very little.
A budget submitted under today’s circumstances, asking for an increase of 15% in property taxes without council input, should have signaled the resulting insistence of reducing the increase to 5%. Wow what a fiscal fallacy that is. Someone should be reevaluated.
Prior to leaving the council, I was asking the Mayor to appoint a personnel committee to review the manager, the clerk and the attorney per the city charter. To my knowledge only the manager has been reviewed. I think it is time to evaluate the performances of each of these areas. There are potential savings with restructuring.
Also, stop single-source purchasing. Reevaluate the development of bid documents. Don’t have staff check on how they are doing: Get LOCAL third-party input.
Stop reinforcing the concept that you have to be from out of town to be an expert at anything. Take Jim Prosser’s speed dial away from him. I was part of that mistake. We should have insisted he leave the speed dial in Illinois and we should have forced him to discover the talents available right here in Cedar Rapids.
Chuck Swore was District 4 council member in 2006 and 2007, the first two years of the city’s council/manager government.