Rules of the Road

The purpose of this blog is to share with you my thoughts on issues pertaining to Oil City and Venango County and to foster discussion.

However, that requires some basic rules. Personal attacks, inappropriate language and venom-filled postings will not be tolerated. Comments will be screened, and if necessary edited, before posting.

Disagreement and a variety of opinions are encouraged, but I ask that it always be in a respectful, positive manner. So fire away, but do so cleanly

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Approach & an assistant city manager's title

You probably read in Wednesday’s paper the move by some council members to eliminate the position of assistant city manager and that I voted against the motion.

First, I think the approach was deeply flawed. The issue was brought up at the last minute as addition to the published agenda; and not for general discussion, but for the purpose of voting on a motion “directing the city manager to draft a resolution eliminating the assistant manager’s position.”

I strongly believe that the appropriate way to raise such issues is to inform council and residents of the city at a public meeting that you would like discussion of a certain subject, etc. placed on the agenda for a future meeting. That way, everyone knows what will be coming up and there will be no surprises, no one will feel blindsided and the public has the opportunity to respond proactively and not after the fact.

Furthermore, I strongly believe there should be general discussion prior to development of a specific directive to the city manager, ordinance, or other item. The idea should be to allow for as broad as input as possible early rather than later.

At the council meeting I asked the maker of the motion to amend it to simply place discussion of the position on the agenda for the following meeting. I would have supported that and been willing to argue the merits for the position at the appropriate time. My request was refused.

The approach taken offends me, which I let my fellow members of council know on Monday, just as did the approach taken calling a special meeting on the Administrative Code, which came in the form of a letter rather than at a public meeting.

Frankly, doing things that way strikes me as bully tactics and it makes hard for me to trust some fellow members of council. I don’t think that is good for the city.

As for the call to eliminate the position, which is only eliminating the title, I don’t get.

The assistant city manager’s position is just one of many hats worn by Janet Gatesman, who among other things is also the director of Community Development. It costs the city nothing and is a cheap way to ensure continuity in the event of illness or any other absence of the city manager. Perhaps more importantly, I think it allows for better coordination at the highest administrative levels of the city.

Those who oppose the title claim it takes focus away from community and economic development. I don’t believe it, and I find that argument somewhat specious. I can’t help but wonder if there is not something else all together behind it.

And finally, the city faces huge issues such as the parking garage, long-overdue capital improvements and purchases, blight, declining tax base, etc. etc. Why are we creating controversies where there is no need? Sometimes, even if you don’t like something or want to change something, the best thing to do is to let it go and get on with more important things.