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

Guest Thoughts

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.

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  1. I have to agree with Chuck 100%.Mr.Prosser is suppose to report to the Council and not the other way around.This new form of government would work if it was run according to what is stated in the Charter.If the Council would quit arguing amongst themselves,and trying to make each individual look better than the other,then maybe they could start taking care of business at hand
    We have citizens who were affected by the flood and are hanging in limbo as to what the city is going to do with their property.I
    have heard where city inspectors are going out to check property,
    that was not affected by the flood,and telling the property owners they need to put siding on their house or garage,or scrape peeling paint off and repaint the house.I think they need to start trying to
    get things done so that either flood raptured property is bought out or they work with the property owners to get the property fixed
    up so they can move back in.
    As far as Prosser using his speed dial,Council put a stop to it NOW.Tell him that he HAS to start looking at local talent,instead of his buddies.STOP all of these out of state consulants from being brought in.Don’t we have qualified people in our area who could do and use this work.
    If Prosser doesn’t want to stop being a CEO then get rid of him and get someone who can do the job the way the way the Charter reads.If Council members don’t want to start representing ALL of the people of Cedar Rapids,then get rid of them and get ones in there who will.Strike that,let’s just get rid of all of them and start over with a whole new group.

  2. As per your article from 7 May 2009 about C.R. City council wanting public participation……WHY? The people of Southwest C.R. and Whispering Pines have asked the Council to LISTEN to us at least 3 TIMES about the intrusion of ill planned “AFFORDABLE” housing in our quiet neighborhood, but to no avail!!!!! They Don’t Listen, They Won’t Listen, but most of all they won’t have to, because they WILL be VOTED OUT by the people who care!

  3. I agree with a lot of Chuck Swore’s comments. I think the council and the city manager listen to outside consultants far more than they listen to Cedar Rapidians. When I questioned once council member about not listening to Cedar Rapidians, he said he did listen but he didn’t agree. I think when they stop agreeing with a majority of the people, we have an issue with the city council.

    I think we have a couple of good council members but there are a few who do not represent the citizens like they were elected. I think the city manager lets the council get all the criticism. They will be voted out, but the city manager will remain.

  4. Well Dan I would have to say that the only bright spot in this mess is that when (not if) the council gets voted out Mr. Processor will be asked to leave by the “new” Mayor and council. It’s either leave or they have the power to make his life a living hell and I hope they will use it if he refuses.

    What goes around comes around and Prosser is about to feel it,.,

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