Criticism isn’t well-founded | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
July 21, 2011 · 3:10 PM
To the editor:
The council-manager form of government (the yes of Prop. 1) has been subjected to some poorly founded criticisms.
Local critics want to make it look unaffordable, complicated, undemocratic and only for large cities. (See EffectivegovforLangley.org and attend the town meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21 for a discussion of these.)
Popularity: 154 U.S. cities with population less than Langley’s use it. When cities start or convert forms, council-manager is vastly preferred.
In cities with more than 2,500 residents, it is preferred above all modes, its use increasing by 14 percent since 1984 (mayor-council decreasing by 12 percent). Washington small cities with this form average around $100,000 for administration, about what is budgeted by Langley.
It is an insult to administrators at large and to our hard-working mayor to dangle a large salary out to the first taker (who may run unopposed) and expect administrative expertise from our minute talent pool.
It is also questionable to expect that the current unopposed mayoral candidate, on just 40 percent of full time he proposes, can interact with the council, regional bodies, local business persons and the public about his initiatives, continue the reform of ailing government systems that Paul has started, attend to ever-present personnel issues, meet complexifying legal demands that cities face, pursue economic development, etc., etc., while managing to keep Langley vibrantly improving.
The manager option with council-elected mayor (not a figurehead!) covers all aspects expertly, full-time, for our administration buck.
There is an actual, not theoretical, two-branch balance.
The manager’s extensive training and work with staff full-time creates a strong, informed administrative pole (without the politics mayoral staffs get stuck in).
A manager, hired and fireable by the council, must inform the elected council and defer to its policies. The council is thus not “last to hear” about a plan.