|Hi everybody! I'm the City Manager!|
On Monday, council voted 5-2 to squander scarce taxpayer dollars and put an entirely self-serving, power-grabby measure on the fall ballot for voters to decide whether they want to retain the Strong Mayor / City Council form of government that has served Lynnwood well for half a century in favor of a "City Manager" form of government.
At first blush, a city manager sounds like a veritable panacea. By Jove, it's good for what ails ya! Proponents will tell you all about how it will ensure that an executive with the right "managerial skill set" can be appointed to provide "professional" management to the city. We will no longer be constrained to Lynnwood city residents to fill the chief executive's role, we can conduct a nationwide executive search for the bestest and most qualifiedest candate ever! No more being limited to a selection of the hicks and rubes of Lynnwood!
Right. Like anyone is buying that!
First and foremost, this is Lynnwood, and it would be far more appropriate to refer to the proposed form of government as the City Council / Sock Puppet form of Government. It's so obvious I'm almost surprised they decided to sally forth with the effort.
To begin with, consider how Lynnwood City Council has collectively deported itself for the past couple years (actually, for a hell of a lot longer than that, but especially the past couple years and most especially this past year.) They have made it as screamingly obvious as possible that they are out to usurp as much governmental power from the executive branch as they possibly can. This past summer they hobbled the mayor by removing some of his basic executive authority (regarding his ability to hire, fire, and discipline his workforce) and arrogated that unto themselves. Aside from that, they were relentlessly obstructionist to the mayor at just about every turn.
Do they honestly expect anybody with an IQ of room temperature or greater to believe that they will hire a professional manager and then let him actually manage? Of course they won't. They will hire a rubberstamping sock puppet and will hold his continued employment over his head as incentive to obediently do as he is told by his masters on City Council. Everything this council has done recently points to this inescapable conclusion.
Even if we had some kind of assurance that the "city manager" would enjoy autonomy in conducting his duties as the city's chief executive, I have no confidence in the basic competence of this council to even conduct a valid and professional executive search to find a good candidate. My God, this is a collection of people who one year ago -- when we were already two years into the grips of the worst recession since the Great Depression -- could have put the kibosh on the $26 million White Elephant Water Park but chose to squander the public's money on it anyway -- and then a matter of months later came screaming hysterically to the people about how they'd have to Cut Fire Fighters! Cut Cops! Cut Emergency Medical! OMG! WTF! Because my God there's not enough money and how ever could we have possibly known? It's the Mayor's fault! That Awful Nasty Mayor! Waaaaaaaaaah!
And this bunch we're supposed to trust with hiring a CEO?
Really, the true hilarity here is that everything this council claims it wants in a chief executive is in all likelihood exactly what they got in the person of Mayor Don Gough. Based upon everything that the media has reported, he comes across as a no-nonesense boss with little time for the asinine, petty little fiefdoms, endemic incompetence and utter childishness that characterize a governmental bureaucracy. And when he acted like a real CEO like they claim they want, what happened? Everybody and their brother on council and in the city workforce pulled out all the stops to undo him, quite literally by any means necessary. When one frame-up or smear job didn't work, out came a fresh one. It was easily the most flagrant display of underhanded, filthy politics and exercises in character assassination that I've ever witnessed.
My advice? Vote down the measure in the Fall, voice your support for Mayor Gough, call him and beg him to run for another term if he can bring himself to do so, and then vote him in. Meanwhile, give the council an enema; if this town needs a fresh start, that is where it is most needed.