Archive for Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Open forum needs change

November 29, 2000

During the past two weeks, I have thought quite a bit about how long I will continue to write these messages. The purpose of the articles was to share information I prepared for a speech at the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce meeting in October. I was encouraged to share those thoughts with the community. However, now, as a result of writing the reports, I have two conflicting issues battling for control of my decision. The first is the ongoing need for information from your government officials to tell you about what we are thinking, planning and/or doing. The city council has let me be a spokesman for this issue.

The second issues concerns my professional responsibility to the governing body not to become political. The professional organization for City/County Managers and Administrators has a tenet in our code of ethics advising us to not get involved in the process in which our employers the city council are selected. Since Mr. Hayes has stated several times that I am his opponent, I have to consider what the extent of my continued role in the debate must be in light of my code of ethics. If we are to continue the discussion about economic development and recreation activities, we need a better way to discuss it. I feel it is up to me to change the venue of the debate.

My chief concern today is building a working relationship with new council members after the election. Should Mr. Hayes get elected, I need a way to work with him as a councilman and with the whole council and staff. My opinion is council members and council candidates should not be debating with staff. The proper role is for council members and candidates to debate. The role of staff is to support decisions of the governing body once they are made. Staff also has a role in the policy making debate, but it is secondary to the council's right to govern.

I had planned to discuss the property tax abatement process this week. There is much confusion about this issue. My decision, then, is to conclude my comments next week as a regular feature in the paper. They have been fun to write. The questions about the project have been good. We do not have all the answers yet as I stated in the first reports. Despite my enthusiasm, I have questions that need addressing. I still have an open mind about the project and feel there are any number of issues that would cause me to recommend walking away from the deal. This is the primary reason an option was placed on the land, to give us time to think about it.

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