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Should city manager be appointed or elected?

Posted Friday, August 7, 2009, at 2:52 PM

Would you apply for a job with a job desciption that included must be thick-skinned, willing to take criticism and personal attacks on a daily basis from a variety of directions and have no chance of ever coming close to pleasing everyone?

Let's add to those requirements flak jacket and helmet will be helpful at times.

Of course other requirements should be understanding financial situations, work toward future growth, bring a diverse group of individuals together and making sound decisions based on common sense.

I'm not completely off the wall in describing what we ask of a city manager in Shelbyville.

The city manager works at the will of the city council, based on their collective common sense or lack thereof.

We've had some fine city managers. In my humble opinion, Don Rice was one of our best. And, we've had some who were average or adequate, a few disasters from the start and, unfortunately, a few who went power mad and valued no opinions other than their own.

Our city managers are appointed by city council. This has some good points, but can also settle into same old politics as usual by the same old bunch if we're not careful.

Could the public do a better job if given the chance to elect a city manager? If we voted a person into the position, how could that person be removed if he or she proved to be totally inadequate?

Please, please, let's leave past and present personalities out of it and just state opinions and why you think a city manager should be appointed or elected.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I believe elected would give a better chance at a check and balance system.

My thinking is the same for school superintendant.

-- Posted by abner_t on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 5:11 PM

I believe elected would be the way to go, with a defined, yet simple, impeachment process.

Of course, one must possess a stated set of credentials and have experience.

-- Posted by gottago on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 5:37 PM

I believe the city manager should be a hired position. I also think that the city manager should be given a contract for a specified period of time to weather the political whims of elected officials and to provide continuity. The contract can contain clauses regarding termination for just cause.

-- Posted by volfanatic on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 6:07 PM

I believe it should be an elected official.

-- Posted by steelerfan743 on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 7:13 PM

I think that the City Manager should be hired. Then you could actually go and recruit someone who has been proven to do a good job somewhere else.

They have their reputation and career on the line. Most public officials know that they are never going to please everyone, just like a head coach or AD. Get things done and get them done teh right way in the end and the majority will be happy.

-- Posted by UVilleGators on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 7:31 PM

Don't ask me.

I figure anyone who didn't head for the hills when they found out they might get the job was either too dumb/crazy for the position or so dedicated they'd serve us with skill and honor even if we tried to keep them away from the office.

NO one gets paid enough to compensate for the wear-and-tear that comes with trying to serve the public.

The perks aren't that great either.

Appointments with renewable "term limits" might be the best since we'd be deaing with an "independent contractor" rather than a lackey who is dependant on us for our votes or a little tin deity who has a public mandate to back up his imposing his will.

We don't need someone who's worries every second about being fired and we don't need to have to go to court or hold special elections if someone isn't meeting our needs.

We need a situation where each side wants to perform at an optimal level so everyone would want to keep the status quo.

We need to set things up so there is mutual "wooing" and either party can choose to "upgrade" when the agreed-upon contract expires or at any time when the existing contract becomes intolerable.

We need to enforce a climate where we are assured that those in charge are willing and able to give us what we need even if that's not the same as what we demand.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Sat, Aug 8, 2009, at 5:06 PM

elected...

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Sat, Aug 8, 2009, at 7:15 PM

Outstanding discussion! I must say that I favor contracts for hired city managers that removes as much of the political gimcrackery from running the machinery of city services. Any time political ideology enters into managing a city, best practices seem to disappear.

-- Posted by kentflanagan on Sat, Aug 8, 2009, at 8:32 PM

Since the city manager works for the citizens of Shelbyville, they should have the opportunity to hire and fire at the voting booth.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Sun, Aug 9, 2009, at 3:11 AM

Elected and Ejected!

-- Posted by shrtckt2003 on Sun, Aug 9, 2009, at 10:31 AM

Elected and Ejected!

-- Posted by shrtckt2003 on Sun, Aug 9, 2009, at 10:31 AM

Appointed at the discretion of the city council. A year to year renewable contract.

-- Posted by Grit on Sun, Aug 9, 2009, at 10:54 AM

Well Bo,

This is a good question, however, electing a city manager would be fiasco for the city. The electorate "unfortunately" would turn it into a political popularity contest instead of a "best qualified" selection. The case in point can be seen in our county and city elections. In a lot of cases, the poorest qualified, was elected.

In some cases none of the choices should have the job. I personally think the City manager should be screened on "job qualifications skills" by the Council Members. At least we can get rid of the council members through the election process.

No open end contract should be given to any person not elected. All contracts should be less than the council members/commissioners term of office. No council member should be able to override a city manager, however, they should be able to reject/or change any decision made by the city manager on a majority vote of the council (including all city personnel actions).

-- Posted by dipperdan on Sun, Aug 9, 2009, at 12:11 PM

We can look at our national elections and see very quickly that we get some real winners from the voting booth so I say hire the best we can get but trust and verify.

-- Posted by cherokee2 on Fri, Aug 14, 2009, at 6:57 PM


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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette.
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